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2UI)omafi! ^ailep ^tltiricj, 

WORKS. Riverside Edition. With two Portraits. 
Poetical Works, 2 vols., $3.00. Prose Works, 7 
vols., #10.50. The set, 9 vols., 121110,^13.50. 
I., II. Poems 
III Marjorie Daw and Other Stories. 
IV. Prudence Palfrey, and A Rivermouth 
V. The Queen of Sheba, and Other Stories. 
VI. The Stillwater Tr.\gedy. 
VII. The Story of a Bad Boy, and The Little 
Violinist, with Other Sketches. 
VIII. From Ponkapog to Pesth, and An Old 
Town by the Sea. 
IX. Ponkapog Papers, A Sea Turn, and Other 

JUDITH OF BETHUUA. With portrait of Miss Nance 
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Boston and New York 


'^ ^o:.U. ai;r...t 

V^ Vv ^ -VSV ^>o». 









Published October jgo8 


To all the friends of Mr. Aldrich who have generously 
placed in my hands the letters and memorials on which the 
following pages are grounded my cordial thanks are due. 
With the exception of the series of letters to Edwin Booth, 
and one other, all of Mr. Aldrich's more important corre- 
spondence has been collected and read. Yet the loss of the 
letters to Booth is a serious one. If any reader of the 
book should chance to know of their whereabouts he will 
confer a favor by communicating it. 

To Mrs. Aldrich my obligation is of the deepest. The 
fine helpfulness that she gave through so niany years to 
the poet has but taken a new form, in the active and 
resourceful aid that has been at the service of his bio- 

F. G. 











INDEX 293 



From a photograph by Cox 


From a sketch by La,unt Thompson 


From a daguerreotype 

From a sketch by Albert Phelps 


From a daguerreotype 


From a daguerreotype 


From a drawing by E. C. Peixotto 


From a ferrotype 

N. P. WILLIS IN 1856 36 


From a caricature by George Arnold 


ALDRICH IN 1863 64 

From a medallion by Launt Thompson 



From a drawing by G. H. Boughton 

ALDRICH IN 1866 ' 78 

From a ferrotype 


From a ferrotype 


ALDRICH IN 1868 92 



From a sketch by C. Graham 


ALDRICH IN 1880 140 





With a facsimile of the manuscript of the inscription 
prepared by Aldrich 


From a sketch by Talbot Aldrich 


With a portion of a note from Augustus Saint-Gaudens 







Designed by Talbot Aidrich 





FOR those who knew him the death of Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich carried a poignancy that seldom attends the 
passing of those who have lived out their threescore years 
and ten. He was a lover of life. Like all poets of his sensi- 
tive kind, he knew the melancholy thought of dissolution, 
— the end of pleasantness, of warmth and light, — but even 
after the great sorrow of his last years the aging anticipa- 
tion of death was alien from him. Lowell himself was not 
more remarkable for perennial youthfulness, and far more 
than Lowell, Aldrich looked astonishingly young, — "a 
habit," as he liked to say, "acquired in early youth." 
Blond, erect, and ruddy, with a peculiar boyish alertness 
of bearing, he seemed at seventy to defy mortality, to be 
himself as immortal as a lyric. 

To his biographer, curiously inquiring into the vanished 
days of that singularly fortunate life, the image that over- 
lays all others is that of "Tom Bailey," the bad boy, who 
was yet "not such a very bad boy." The exquisite lyric 


poet, the inimitable story-writer, the accomplished editor, 
the witty, urbane man of letters, all take in the mind from 
that Portsmouth boyhood a coloring of sincerity and 
soundness, of mischief and mirth, which makes his whole 
life seem not only its fulfilment but in a queer sense its 

It is, then, with a certain surprise that one becomes 
aware of the wide segment of American literature, the 
variety of intellectual movements, that his life touched. 
And it is precisely in this that one prime interest of his 
letters lies. Through them, as through the candid eyes of 
Tom Bailey, we watch the flow and ebb of the literary tides 
of more than half a century. 

The safe full of old letters that has been the centre of 
the writer's daily thought for more than a year echoes with 
mute voices and teems with ghostly life. These packets of 
yellowing letters, full of friendship, the casual records of 
the details of daily living, of work and play, of pleasant 
and sad times, embody the very form and pressure of 
periods and manners and opinions that have gone irrevoca- 
bly into the night. Old Portsmouth, with her parochial 
personages, the privateers of 1812 still rotting at her 
dreamy wharves ; literary Bohemia in the brownstone New 
York of N. P. Willis and General George P. Morris, of 
Fanny Fern and Ada Clare ; Boston, in her Augustan age, 
when Longfellow and Lowell and Holmes might be met 
any night at dinner ; the eighties and nineties, prehistoric 
decades of the woodcut and the dialect story, — all live 


again in these letters with a life that is made the more 
convincing as the record advances unbroken and veracious 
almost to the very hour. 

More impressive still, perhaps, is the friendship of the 
letters. The series begins in an age when there was ampler 
leisure than now for the cultivation of the ancient art of 
being friends. In the letters to and from Bayard Taylor 
with their bounteous humanity, in those from Edwin 
Booth with their undertone of tragic gloom, their pathetic 
eagerness for affection and mirth, in the long, reciprocal, 
diverse-faceted correspondence with Lowell, Longfellow, 
Holmes, Fields, Stedman, Mr. Howells, Mr. Clemens, 
Mr. Woodberry, Mr. Gilder, and many more, there is a 
warmth of feeling, a richness of interest and ripeness of 
expression that make one ashamed for the meagre com- 
munications that are the contemporaneous type of the 
friendly letter. 

Yet Aldrich was not a born letter- writer ; he never, like 
Lowell or Stevenson, cultivated letter- writing as a fine art, 
still less did he ever pour out his " soul " in lyrical effusion, 
like, say, Lafcadio Hearn. He wrote a letter, when he did 
write one, chiefly because there was some compelling occa- 
sion to do so, but never perfunctorily, never without the 
magnetic personal touch, the sincere friendly expression, 
and rarely without some sparkle of his inextinguishable 
wit. His letters are not such as he would wish to have 
printed by themselves as a substantive part of his "Com- 
plete Works," nor do they enlarge upon his views of things- 


in-general with quite sufficient assurance to play the cus- 
tomary part in a " Life and Letters" ; but if the reader will 
let them have their way with him, there is no intimacy of 
temperament, no significance of event, no hue of back- 
ground that they will not disclose. Throughout this book, 
after the point at which the correspondence begins, the 
story of Aldrich's life and work and friendships shall be 
told, so far as possible, in his own words, in the words of 
those yellowing, mystically communicative old letters. 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the only child of Elias Taft 
Aldrich and Sarah Abba Bailey Aldrich, was born Novem- 
ber II, 1836, in the old seaport town of Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire. Both the Aldriches and the Baileys were of 
sound colonial stock. In the male line the Aldrich descent 
can be traced back through seven generations to a certain 
George Aldrich, who came from Derbyshire to the Massa- 
chusetts Bay Colony in the middle of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, and died there in 1682. The Aldriches were chiefly 
men of affairs, though representatives of the family with a 
tincture of the humanities were not wanting. Writing in 
1898 to Miss S. M. Francis, who was preparing a sketch of 
his life to accompany a selection from his works, Aldrich 
said : " An old aunt of mine used to say that that Henry Al- 
drich, who wrote a humorous poem giving five reasons why 
a man should drink, was our ancestor. He was a schol- 
arly and musical party, and I am ready to adopt him." 
Unfortunately this Henry Aldrich — who was a Canon of 


Christ Church, Oxford, and described by Macaulay as "a 
polite though not profound scholar, and genial, hos- 
pitable gentleman" — died unmarried in 1710 and 
could have been nothing more than a collateral kinsman 
of the poet. It is pleasant, however, to think of him as of 
the family. 

One point at least there was of close kinship between 
Henry and Thomas Bailey Aldrich : both were ardent and 
consistent pipe- smokers. It is related of the former that 
some Oxford undergraduates once laid a wager that he 
would be found smoking at a certain preternaturally early 
hour in the morning. Going to see, they found him not 
smoking, indeed, but in the act of refilling his pipe. One 
of the most admired of his musical compositions was a 
catch '*to be sung by four men smoking their pipes not 
more difficult to sing than diverting to hear." Before taking 
leave of this "genial, hospitable gentleman," the five rea- 
sons for drinking, with their Aldrichian flavor, may not 
come amiss : — 

"Si bene quid memini, sunt causae quinque bibendi: 
Hospitis adventus, praesens sitis atque futura, 
Aut vini bonitas, aut quaelibet altera causa." 

That is to say : there are five good and sufficient reasons 
for drinking, — the arrival of a guest, present thirst or 
future, excellence of wine, or any other reason. 

As is not uncommonly the case, Aldrich seems always to 
have attached a certain special importance to his maternal 
ancestry. The Baileys traced their descent to a John Bailey, 


who flourished at Grantham in Lincolnshire early in the 
seventeenth century. He it was, perhaps, who married the 

"creature soft and fine 
From Spain, some say, some say from France; 
Within her veins leapt blood like wine — 
She led her Roundhead Lord a dance!" — 

to whom Aidrich liked imaginatively to trace a certain 
duahty of temperament in himself : — 

"In Grantham church they lie asleep; 
Just where, the verger may not know — 
Strange that two hundred years should keep 
The old ancestral fires aglow. 

In me these two have met again; 
To each my nature owes a part; 
To one, the cool and reasoning brain, 
To one, the quick, unreasoning heart!" 

To call the roll of the collateral ancestors of both the 
Aldriches and the Baileys is to enumerate many of the most 
distinguished names of the old colony. We find among 
them Stanleys, Pickerings, Adamses, Thayers, Putnams, 
Cogswells, and Rolfes — not to mention the indefatigable 
John Alden. In an early letter, written in 1854, Aidrich 
himself touches upon his ancestry with a characteristic 
mingling of irony and pride. *'I could boast of a long line 
of ancestors," he wrote, "but won't. They are of no pos- 
sible benefit to me, save it is pleasant to think that none of 
them were hanged for criminals or shot for traitors, but 
that many of them are sleeping somewhere near Bunker 
Hill. . . . My genealogical tree, you will observe, grew up 

("Grandfather Nutter") 


some time after the Flood, with other vegetation. I will 
spare myself this warm day the exercise of climbing up its 
dead branches and come down to one of the lower ' sprigs/ 
but by no means ' the last leaf upon the tree.' " 

Elias Taft Aldrich, the poet's father, was born in 1807 at 
Livermore Falls, Maine. He seems early in life to have 
become the master of some little property and gone into 
business in Bangor as a kind of free lance, — common in 
those adventurous days, — with interests in lumber and in 
the coastwise trade. In the course of his ventures, soon 
after the death of the wife he had married when little more 
than a boy, he visited Portsmouth, and there, in the way of 
business, met Thomas Darling Bailey, the admirable 
"Grandfather Nutter" of "The Story of a Bad Boy." 
Mr. Bailey took his new friend home to dinner and intro- 
duced him to his three daughters. The eldest of these, 
Sarah Abba, was a girl of eighteen, who, according to a 
pleasant family tradition, still played with her dolls, and 
was doubtless expected to remain decorously mute in the 
presence of company. Yet from their first meeting Elias 
Aldrich found her attractive. In February, 1833, they were 
married and went to live in Bangor. In the fall of 1836, 
after three years, in which Elias Aldrich's affairs seem not 
altogether to have prospered, they returned to Ports- 
mouth, and there, a few weeks later, Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich came into the world. 

He was born in the house at 61 Court Street, in which his 
grandfather was temporarily living. When he was but six 


weeks old he was taken to live in the house at number forty 
— now forty-five — on the same street, which was to be a 
lifelong symbol of ''home" to him, and which he has made 
familiar to hundreds of thousands of readers as the " Nutter 
House" in "The Story of a Bad Boy." Very slightly 
idealized, it is there described to perfection : — 

" Imagine a low-studded structure, with a wide hall run- 
ning through the middle. At your right hand, as you enter, 
stands a tall black mahogany clock, looking like an Egyp- 
tian mummy set up on end. On each side of the hall are 
doors (whose knobs, it must be confessed, do not turn very 
easily), opening into large rooms wainscoted and rich in 
wood-carvings about the mantelpieces and cornices. The 
walls are covered with pictured paper, representing land- 
scapes and sea-views. In the parlor, for example, this en- 
livening figure is repeated all over the room : A group of 
English peasants, wearing Italian hats, are dancing on a 
lawn that abruptly resolves itself into a sea-beach, upon 
which stands a flabby fisherman (nationality unknown), 
quietly hauling in what appears to be a small whale, and 
totally regardless of the dreadful naval combat going on 
just beyond the end of his fishing-rod. On the other side 
of the ships is the mainland again, with the same peasants 
dancing. Our ancestors were very worthy people, but their 
wall-papers were abominable. 

"There are neither grates nor stoves in these quaint 
chambers, but splendid open chimney- places, with room 
enough for the corpulent back-log to turn over comfortably 


on the polished andirons. A wide staircase leads from the 
hall to the second story, which is arranged much like the 
first. Over this is the garret. I need not tell a New England 
boy what a museum of curiosities is the garret of a well- 
regulated New England house of fifty or sixty years' 
standing. Here meet together, as if by some preconcerted 
arrangement, all the broken-down chairs of the household, 
all the spavined tables, all the seedy hats, all the intoxicated 
looking boots, all the split walking sticks that have retired 
from business, * weary with the march of life.' The pots, 
the pans, the trunks, the bottles — who may hope to make 
an inventory of the numberless odds and ends collected in 
this bewildering lumber-room? But what a place it is to 
sit of an afternoon with the rain pattering on the roof! 
what a place in which to read ' Gulliver's Travels,' or the 
famous adventures of Rinaldo Rinaldini!"^ 

At a very early age, however, Tom Bailey was obliged to 
absent himself for a while from the felicity of this pleasing 
abode. When he was some eighteen months old Elias 

* This house is now the Aldrich Memorial Museum. Money for its 
purchase was raised by popular subscription, and through the piety and 
devotion of the poet's family its interior has been restored with the utmost 
fidelity. There to-day the visitor may gaze in the very mirrors that 
reflected Tom Bailey's blithe features, or turn the pages of the books 
that entranced him on rainy afternoons. In the quaint colonial garden 
may be found every flower mentioned in his poetry, while in the fireproof 
room that has been erected may be seen his priceless collection of auto- 
graph manuscripts, first editions, and literary relics. A visit here will 
better acquaint the reader with the background of the poet's youth than 
many pages of biographical rhetoric. 


Aldrich grew restless, as was his wont, and, taking his little 
family, went out into the wider world to seek a wider for- 
tune. For three years he seems to have wandered far, so far 
that when he was eighteen his son wrote, perhaps with a 
little use of hyperbole, that in infancy he had visited every 
state in the Union. In 1841 the family settled in New York, 
living at 41 North Moore Street, just around the corner 
from Hudson Street, where in 1843 Laurence Hutton, one 
of Aldrich's intimates of later years, was born. For four 
years, with long summers in Portsmouth, the Aldriches 
continued to dwell in New York. Finally, in 1846, in com- 
pany with Charles L. Frost, who had married another of 
Mr. Bailey's daughters, Elias Aldrich moved with his 
family to New Orleans, and invested his little property in a 
commission business, "so securely that he was never able 
to get more than half of it out again." 

For three years this was our poet's home, and it is perhaps 
not too fantastic a speculation to suppose that from those 
early days in the old Creole city, with its strange, tropical 
beauty, its exotic sounds and scents, he drew imaginative 
clues to a richer and more romantic life than was commonly 
to be observed among the dwellers upon the North Shore, 
with their preoccupations, commercial and transcendental. 
In the spring and fall the boy would be taken on trading- 
trips up and down the Mississippi, and to the end of his life 
he could vividly recall the weird-flaring torches of the 
negroes who came down to light their landings. And in a 
late letter there is a lively remembrance of the " sweet blond 




\ fq 

' W 




saints" in the New Orleans Cathedral. The psychologizing 
critic may Hke to j5nd in these early impressions the root 
of that somewhat exotic impulse that later begat the aro- 
matic verse of his " Cloth of Gold." And, perhaps, in his 
childish relations with a subject race, — the reader will 
recall the affectionate kicking of little black Sam in *'The 
Story of a Bad Boy," — we may find one secondary source 
of a certain amiable and engaging assurance that always 
marked his manner. 

As the boy grew older the limitations of Southern schools 
began to be evident, and finally, in the spring of 1849, he 
was taken back to Portsmouth to prepare to enter Harvard 
College. In the autumn the calamity of death first touched 
his life. In September Elias Aldrich set out to return by 
himself to New Orleans. After his departure Mrs. Aldrich 
was tormented nightly by dreams of death and disaster to 
her husband. Unable to withstand her anxiety, she jour- 
neyed hastily to New Orleans. There she found that Elias 
Aldrich had died of the cholera on October 6, on a Missis- 
sippi River steamer, at Memphis. Three months later she 
came home, bringing her husband's body to be interred in 
Greenwood Cemetery.^ 

In the mean time the boy had been put to school in Ports- 
mouth, and then began those golden boyish years in the 
Nutter House that have been immortalized in one of the 

* The date of Elias Aldrich's death has hitherto been variously stated 
in print as 1850, 1851, and 1852. The date of 1849 is substantiated by 
the records of the Cemetery. 


best books of its kind in the world. " The Story of a Bad 
Boy" is of course autobiography of the more generous sort, 
in which incidents are combined, arranged, and idealized 
to make a reality more real than real life. The sequence 
of the events described in it bears little or no relation to 
the chronology of its author's. own boyish life. Yet the 
Wahrheit of the book is vastly in excess of its Dichtung. 
It is simply a composed picture of vivid boyhood memories. 
The present writer has conferred with two survivors of the 
circle of Tom Bailey's Portsmouth schoolmates, and has 
found their memories of boyish pranks to be substantially 
the same as those related in the book. The private theatri- 
cals in the Bailey barn, the Fourth of July escapade, the 
cruises to the river's mouth, the snow fort on " Blatter 's 
Hill" and the frigid warfare waged there, all had their 
prototypes in fact. Even the boyish love-afFair with Miss 
Nelly, and the death of Binny Wallace, — the pathetic 
page of perfect art that lingers longest in the reader's mem- 
ory, — had their basis in actuality. Nor is this, indeed, 
very remarkable. The doings of boys the world over show 
a singular homogeneity of conception, and it is the typical 
and universal character of Tom Bailey's escapades that is 
their most enduring attraction. 

His schoolmates' memories of Tom Bailey have one sig- 
nificant concurrence: to a man, and almost in the same 
language, they speak of a certain distinction, a magnetic 
reserve about him; they say he was a "marked boy." He 
was a good fighter, blessed with a kind of "terrier cour- 


age" in fistic emergencies, a cool hand at a nocturnal 
prank or a snowball siege, yet he seems to have gone into 
adventures with a certain detachment, — the typical bard 
at a battle. In part, no doubt, these recollections of his 
boyish companions have taken an ex post facto coloring. 
Yet no one who knew him, and is endowed with a sense 
for the unity of personality, can doubt their essential 

Even in those days he was a reader, a little dreamer, and 
moved in a world peopled with the folk of the imagination. 
The passage in "The Story of a Bad Boy" describing his 
little hall-room in the "Nutter House," the books he found 
there and the use he made of them, is of the first biogra- 
phic importance: — 

" A washstand in the corner, a chest of carved mahogany 
drawers, a looking-glass in a filigreed frame, and a high- 
backed chair studded with brass nails like a coffin, consti- 
tuted the furniture. Over the head of the bed were two oak 
shelves, holding perhaps a dozen books — among which 
were ' Theodore, or The Peruvians,' * Robinson Crusoe,' an 
odd volume of * Tristram Shandy,' Baxter's 'Saint's Rest,' 
and a fine English edition of the 'Arabian Nights,' with six 
hundred woodcuts by Harvey. 

"Shall I ever forget the hour when I first overhauled 
these books? I do not allude especially to Baxter's ' Saint's 
Rest,' which is far from being a Hvely work for the young, 
but to the 'Arabian Nights,' and particularly to 'Robinson 
Crusoe.' The thrill that ran into my fingers' ends then has 


not run out yet. Many a time did I steal up to this nest of 
a room, and, taking the dog's-eared volume from its shelf, 
glide off into an enchanted realm, where there were no 
lessons to get and no boys to smash my kite. In a lidless 
trunk in the garret I subsequently unearthed another 
motley collection of novels and romances, embracing the 
adventures of Baron Trenck, Jack Sheppard, Don Quixote, 
Gil Bias, and Charlotte Temple — all of which I fed upon 
like a bookworm. 

"I never come across a copy of any of those works with- 
out feeling a certain tenderness for the yellow-haired little 
rascal who used to lean above the magic pages hour after 
hour, religiously believing every word he read, and no more 
doubting the reality of Sindbad the Sailor, or the Knight 
of the Sorrowful Countenance, than he did the existence 
of his own grandfather." 

Throughout his Portsmouth boyhood young Aldrich 
' attended the school kept by Samuel De Merritt, a famous 
schoolmaster in his day, and it is pleasant to recall that 
after thirty years his old teacher wrote in quaint sincere 
phrase: "With the hundreds of pupils who have been 
under my instruction there is not one for whom I entertain 
a higher regard and a purer affection than Thomas Bailey 

The boy's poetical education kept an equal pace. The 
spirit of the history-haunted town, with its hints and 
flavors of the ocean, its intimations of foreign shores, its 
refined, sad old houses, blended with his memories of 



exotic New Orleans, and with the imagined landscapes of 
Arabia and Spain, deeply stirred his boyish imagination 
and soon bore fruit in rhyme. His earliest verses, "To the 
Moon," have not been preserved, but enough specimens of 
his juvenilia can be recovered to show their quality. Par- 
ticularly interesting are "Santonio," an attempt at heroic 
poetry, printed in the poets' corner of the "Portsmouth 
Journal" for June 19, 1851, when he was less than fifteen 
years old, and some humorous-pathetic stanzas on the 
destruction of the old Atkinson house across the way, 
written about a year later, and to be found printed in 
Brewster's "Rambles about Portsmouth." Neither is a 
very remarkable production, but the former has its interest 
for the correctness of the versification that embodies its 
imitative adolescent fervor; while the latter, in its crude 
commingling of pathos and humor, is perhaps prophetic 
of that exquisite blending of light and shade which is a 
salient quality of his mature work. 

But like most pleasant things, these golden Portsmouth 
days with their happy pastimes and poetic dreaming were 
to have an early end. EUas Aldrich had left a little pro- 
perty, but scarcely enough for the adequate support of mo- 
ther and son. When, therefore, the time came for the boy 
to go to college, and there began to be sober consideration 
of ways and means, the project came to seem of dubious 
practicability. In the event he gave up the prospect of 
going to Cambridge to study literature with Professor 
Longfellow, and accepted instead a clerkship in the 


counting-room of his uncle, Charles Frost, in New York. 
Yet until he was thirty-five years old, ^- 

"Nel mezzo del cammin del nostra vita," — 

his summer home continued to be in Portsmouth. This 
chapter can draw to its close no more fitly than with a por- 
tion of a letter that Aldrich wrote in 1883, regretting his 
inability to be present at a Portsmouth reunion : — 

" Dear Mr. President : — When a mother has so large a 
family as Portsmouth has, a son more or less scarcely 
counts ; but keenly sensible of their loss are the sons who 
find themselves unable to join the other children, when the 
impulse seizes them to fly back for a moment to the dear 
old lady's apron-strings. 

"I write in behalf of one of those unavoidably-absent 
sons — a prodigal who would be as glad as he of the para- 
ble to get home again. His loyalty to that spot of earth 
where his eyes first opened on sea and sky, and where, on 
his arrival, he lost as little time as possible in rigging up a 
fishing-rod for the smelt at the end of Long Wharf — his 
loyalty, I repeat, is not to be challenged. Though he has 
more or less been known as a Bad Boy, he has never been 
known as an ungrateful one. So far as his slight gift went 
he has sung the praises of the Old Town by the Sea; in 
prose and verse he has sung them, until he was sometimes 
afraid that good folk might weary of the strain. Now and 
then he has veiled Portsmouth in a fictitious name, but his 
affection for her never went veiled ; and nothing has ever 
touched him more nearly than when some book or page 


of his has caused the stranger to turn aside from his route 
of travel in order to take a stroll through the streets of 

"The beautiful old town in which we all passed our 
childhood ! How her loveliness deepens and freshens year 
by year, as if the waters of the Piscataqua, sparkling at her 
lip, had their rise in those Fountains of Perpetual Youth 
which Ponce de Leon sought ! How our purest memories 
have crystallized about her ! What a strong sentiment it is 
that periodically impels us to flock back to her from every 
point of the compass — making her the Mecca of loving 
pilgrimages ! We who are Portsmouth born and bred never 
get wholly away from the glamour of early association. 
One night, a year ago, lying half-awake in a hostelry in 
Russia, I fancied that I heard the nine o'clock bell tolling 
in the steeple of the Old North Church, and was conscious 
of being out rather late ! — Just as it used to be !" 
One May day, some years after, he wrote to Stedman : — 
"The Spring has served me as the girls did n't use to — 
she has failed to keep her appointment with me. Shall you 
not go to Newcastle this summer ? It is a magical place, a 
fairyland where I seem to have left my boyhood. If you 
ever see a little shade wandering along shore, picking up 
shells, and dreaming of a big ship to come and carry him 
across the blue water, you will know it is I. If you call out 
*Hi! young Bailey!' (the name I used to go by) perhaps 
I'll come to you." 



T3ERHAPS not the least propitious fortuity of Aldrich's 
-■- fortunate Kfe was the chance that sent him to New 
York rather than to Boston or Cambridge to spend his 
early years as a young commencer in literature. His finely 
individual talent would have gained little from the over- 
nutriment of academic studies ; and in Boston in the fifties 
the close, bright risen stars of Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, 
Emerson, and Whittier were likely to dazzle the eye and 
silence or constrain the song of the poetic beginner. In 
New York the chief literary potentates of the time, Bry- 
ant, Halleck, Willis, and General George P. Morris, were 
scarcely of such magnitude as to produce this pernicious 
result. There was, too, in New York, a group of young men 
of poetic talent, in some cases of poetic genius, ready to 
welcome and cheer any newcomer in the Muse's Bower. 
And, finally, there was in the tone of this circle a certain 
worldliness, a disposition to render unto Caesar the things 
that are indubitably his, which was an excellent corrective 
for the ineffective other- worldliness that was likely to befog 
the young New England poet in those years, and of which 
Aldrich, with an odd contradiction of the essential quality 



of his genius, had akeady, in his early attempts in verse, 
shown symptoms. Some of his finest and most characteris- 
tic poems were written during his residence in New York, 
and bear the clear impress of the Metropolitan Muse. 

The circumstances of his abode there were happily cal- 
culated to give him a full measure of freedom to share the 
various life of the city, yet with no lack of those safeguard- 
ing domestic ties that the young urban poet is Hkely to 
throw off to his cost. The fine old house at 105 Clinton 
Place (now 33 West Eighth Street), which, fallen upon 
evil days, still stands, looking, somewhat wistfully, one 
imagines, down the length of MacDougal Street towards 
Washington Square, was in 1852 the scene of a rich family 
life. Mrs. Elias Aldrich went to New York with her boy, 
and Mrs. Frost, the mistress of the house, was his favorite 
aunt. Indeed, there is a tradition that so close was the bond 
between them that when in 1846 she was married to Mr. 
Frost, Tom Bailey had to be taken along on the wedding- 
trip. Her children were not so many years younger than he, 
and her daughter still remembers that when as a child she 
cried in the night it was most often her boy cousin who 
came running to her solace. Charles Frost, himself, whose 
portrait can scarcely be distinguished from Thackeray's, 
was a fine type of the vigorous, successful merchant, as 
may be seen from this character of him taken from a letter 
to Mr. Stedman in 1880: — 

"Indeed I sorrowed very sincerely over my old uncle. 
Under his shockingly bluff manner he had a heart as sensi- 


tive as a child's and as sympathetic as a woman's — for 
those he loved. He had faults and virtues enough to set up 
five or six conventional men. I shall never forget his good- 
ness to me and mine. At his funeral (or rather at the slight 
services held at his house before the remains were taken to 
Portsmouth) a pathetic thing happened. A little group of 
mourners, totally unknown to the family, made its appear- 
ance — a shabby lot of old men and women and one or two 
striplings. These forlorn figures were persons whom Mr. 
Frost had helped in one way or another. Some of them he 
had boarded in hospitals, others he had established in the 
junk-business, and others again he had assisted with small 
weekly sums of money when they were out of work. I can 
picture how he bullied them and swore at them — and 
helped them. 'There goes the only friend I ever had,' 
muttered a shabby old man who looked as if he had been 
picked up at a bric-a-brac shop." 

Mr. Frost it was who said, when Aldrich told him that 
Dr. Guernsey of "Harper's " had just accepted a poem and 
paid him fifteen dollars for it, "Why don't you send the 
d d fool one every day?" 

The years from 1852 to 1855, that Aldrich spent as a 
clerk in the counting-room of Mr. Frost's commission- 
house at 146 Pearl Street, seem to have left very lit- 
tle impress on his mind. Possibly some of his careful 
habits may have been formed there, and something of his 
shrewdness and capacity in business matters, a capacity 
not very prevalent among poets, may have sprung from 


this early training ; but from the first he occupied himself 
more with lyrics than with ledgers. And his uncle used 
humorously to complain that he would always be found 
studying Spanish or doing something else equally remote 
from the commission business. His real life was lived 
in the little back-hall bedroom on the third floor of the 
house in Clinton Place, where amid his books, his pipes, 
his Japanese fans, of which he was an early collector, he 

"Such sights as youthful poets dream 
On summer eves by haunted stream"; 

and wrote, as he recalled late in his life, *'a lyric or two 
every day before going downtown." 

But if we would savor to the full the quality of those 
happy hall bedroom days we must turn to the letters. In 
1 901 Mr. Alpha Child, a very early friend, whose memories 
are of a peculiar sensitiveness, wrote to Aldrich : — 

"Some months ago an Italian electrician whom I had 
known in Schenectady wrote me he had something he 
wanted to say to me next time I should be in New York, 
and gave his address as 105 Eighth Street, rear room, third 
floor. An interval of thirty-five years from scenes at that 
house had obscured its identity. It was simply one of the 
many hundred thousand habitations in the great city, and 
I placed the memorandum with things to be of use on my 
going to New York a few days later. 

"A bewildering sense of familiarity with the curved and 
heavy stone coping to the steps came upon me as I mounted 


to the door — ah ! that door ! Had n't I seen its somewhat 
ponderously moulded single panel before ^- somewhere ? 
But thinking it might be a wandering recollection of an old 
dream I opened it and stepped up the front stairs, hand on 
the rail, and turning with the turn of the rail to the next 
flight and up into the rear room, door partly open. It was 
the after-breakfast hour, but the man was not up. The 
door from the chamber into the bedroom was open, and 
he said, ' Come in.' 

"As I entered I forgot to look at him; my eye fell upon 
the back yards of the Ninth Street houses and turned to 
the walls of the room — (no longer olive !). Then I knew 
mighty well where I was! It was 'the chamber of quiet 
meditations' in the early morns and late afternoons of 
our years long gone." 

A paragraph from Mr. Aldrich's reply, and the picture 
is complete : "I have delayed acknowledging the receipt of 
your letter, with the hope that I might find the mood and 
the hour in which to write you one nearly half as charming. 
There was something almost spectral in your reminis- 
cences. It was as if I had taken down by chance a dusty 
old volume containing an unsuspected biographical sketch 
of myself. That mangy, disreputable old house in Clinton 
Place ! I once lived there ! Two or three years ago I stood 
in front of it for a few minutes. Was it ever a home filled 
with innocent laughter and kindly voices ? The one mar- 
riage and one death that took place in its rooms seemed 
like dreams to me. Like a dream, too, seemed the morning 

(33 West Sth Street) 


when you slipped under the carved front door a bit of paper 
telling me that Lincoln had been assassinated. . . . The 
Japanese hold that a man while still Uving has a detach- 
able ghost which he can leave round anywhere. I am 
sure that the phantom of a nineteen-year-old haunts the 
small hall room on the third floor rear of No. 105 Clinton 

Throughout his years in the counting-room young 
Aldrich was not only writing poems, but printing them 
over various pseudonyms. The "Sunday Atlas" seems to 
have been his most favored medium. The editor's note 
at the top of one of his contributions in 1854 gives a hint 
of the activity of his Muse, while beneath the flowery 
rhetoric of the note a judicious friendliness is discern- 

"We ask the readers of the * Atlas' to indulge themselves 
in a rich poetical and literary banquet, when we invite 
them to peruse the annexed canto, the first of five which 
have been written by a young gentleman of New York for 
this paper. He has often graced our poetical department ; 
and every line which has emanated from his pen has 
received the most flattering encomium at the hands of the 
critics. We do not think that we ever came across a poet 
who possessed a more original, chaste, or active imagina- 
tion. The first canto of * Blanchette,' like all the produc- 
tions of its young and gifted author, is marked by extrava- 
gance of metaphor and figure ; — those rough and yet rare 
diamonds which invariably mark the pathway to ultimate 


excellence and eminence. They are but the precursors of 
reserved resplendent fame. We had marked several of 
these redundancies of genius, for remark ; but, as we can- 
not, after a full review of the canto^ consent to utter a word 
which might be unkindly taken by the author of the poem, 
our young friend 'Walter,' we give it to the reader as it 
stands in the original version." 

The poem itself, a rather overwrought "Legend of Eden- 
wold" in dramatic form, is perhaps best omitted. 

The year 1855 marked a turning-point in the young 
poet's life. In that year, at the age of nineteen, he pub- 
lished his first volume of verse, wrote a poem, which gained 
almost at once a national celebrity, and resigned his post in 
his uncle's counting-room to follow with single heart the 
life of letters. 

"The Bells : A Collection of Chimes by T. B. A.," was 
published early in 1855 (the copyright date is 1854), with 
the imprint of J. C. Derby. In the Proem we are told that 
the volume has been entitled "The Bells," — 

"Because in bells there something is to me 
Of rhythms and the poets of gone years — 
A sad reverberation breeding tears, 
Touching the finer chords of Memory!" 

The poets of gone years are, indeed, a good deal in evi- 
dence in the inspiration of the verses. In the images and 
melodies there are many clear reminiscences of Keats, — 
in his earlier manner, — Chatterton, Tennyson, and Poe; 


and still nearer masters throw their shadows on the page. 
We find a poem beginning — 

"Ye who love Nature, and in Nature, God," 

which is pure Bryant, and just over the leaf a piece con- 
cerning Fannie, — 

* • Fannie wears an open dress — 
Ah ! the charming chemisette ! 
Half concealing, half revealing 

Something far more charming yet," etc. — 

which is as pure Willis, Willis in his secular vein. Perhaps 
the soundest poetic influence discernible in the little book 
is that of Longfellow. There is an admirable poem, in the 
metre of "In Memoriam," addressed to him, and the most 
successful ventures show a striving to catch something of 
the sweet pensiveness of his mood and the limpid cadence 
of his verse. 

Of the fifty poems in the volume not one was sufficiently 
pleasing to Aldrich's fastidious taste to be retained in any of 
his later collections. Yet in its fluency and variety of metre, 
its range of mood, its occasional power of vivid phrase, the 
book was of fine promise. Most significant of all its traits, 
perhaps, is its persisting duality of temper. Sentimental- 
ity and humor are still at war in it. In one poem, "The 
Lachrymose," they come to open blows. After exclaiming 

"Perdition catch these lachrymosic bards 
That moan forever about weary earth 
And sea 1 as if their dismal dactyles could 
Improve it much!" 

the youthful poet expresses his own ambition : — 


"For my own part I am content if I 
Can tinker joy, making it waterproof, 
To keep out tears!" 

For the present, however, the poetic tear is to be a frequent 
factor in his work, and the joy has something of wanness 
and fever. In short, the boy has not yet found his world, 
but is living in a misty mid-region, lighted by the reflection 
of the moods of his "poets of gone years.'* 

Early in 1855, soon after the publication of "The Bells," 
Aldrich won his first secure poetic success with his "Ballad 
of Babie ^ Bell." The death of a child in the Frost family 
gave him a profound and sincere sorrow that gradually 
grew musical in memory. Many of his early poems dealt 
with the subject, and the poetization became more telling 
as time went on, until in "Babie Bell" he struck a chord 
that found an instant response in the popular heart. The 
piece was written on backs of bills of lading while he was 
supervising the unloading at the wharves of goods con- 
signed to his uncle's firm ; it was first printed in a commer- 
cial paper, "The Journal of Commerce"; yet it seems to 
have swept through the country like a piece of news. It 
was reprinted in the "poet's corner" of the provincial press 
from Maine to Texas, and it is hard to find one of those 
quaint scrapbooks of the heart that our mothers liked to 
keep that does not contain it. 

* This spelling was retained in the successive editions of his poems 
until 1885. It is symptomatic of the mild American version of "the 
Gothic renaissance." In "The Bells" we find many such Keatsy spellings 
as St. Ayne, Allinggale, dactyle, Lillyan, etc. 

ALDRICil A150UT 1S54 


With, for him, singularly little revision, " The Ballad of 
Baby Bell" was retained by Aldrich in his collected poems. 
There, beside his mature work, it sounds in places a little 
falsetto. Yet the tenderness and purity of its conception 
and the sweet music of its execution are likely to give it 
long life. 

Writing many years afterward in the "Theatre" maga- 
zine, John E. McCann tells how the poem helped him 
through a bad quarter of an hour in a western barroom 
full of the "bad men" of forty years ago. 

" Do you know how I got out of that scrape ? By touch- 
ing their rough hearts with a little poem I had seen in a 
magazine, about how a little baby came and went. I seem 
to see that low barroom and its rough crowd now — sitting 
around on boxes, barrels ; and the bartender on the bar, 
with his legs dangling over ; and the miserable light from 
the oil lamps ; and the big, glowing stove ; and I hear the 
storm howling without — and the smell of bad tobacco and 
worse liquor is wafted to my nostrils, if I only shut my eyes 
and think for a moment. 

"Before I began I assured them that I would not try to 
'play them,' etc., and they hinted rather strongly that I'd 
better not. Well, do you know that I could see those rough 
cusses melt as I went on? And when I came to the last 
lines, — 

" * At last he came, the messenger, 
The messenger from unseen lands: 
And what did dainty Baby Bell? 
She only crossed her little hands,' — 


"*0h, say!' from the big fellow. 

"'She only looked more meek and fair! 
We parted back her silken hair, 
We wove the roses round her brow — 
White buds, the summer's drifted snow — 
Wrapt her from head to foot in flowers . . . 
And thus went dainty Baby Bell 
Out of this world of ours. ' 

"There was a silence, and then a deep *By !' from 

their very hearts. I was well provided for, you may be sure. 
Some of those men had left babies in the States, I suppose 
— anyway, I captured their good will with that one touch 
of nature." 

Writing of the poem in the last year of his Hfe, to Mr. 
H. W. Mabie, Aldrich said : — 

" The verses were written when I was very young, and 
later I have wondered at finding here and there among the 
obvious crudities a line of curious significance and penetra- 
tion. In places I builded better than I knew. In spite of the 
popularity of the piece, I have always somewhat doubted 
its quality, perhaps because the verses were declined by 
all the leading magazines in the country." 

The sudden reputation that followed the publication of 
"Babie Bell" seems to have confirmed the young poet's 
sense of vocation. With the somewhat sceptical assent of 
Mr. Frost, he left the ledgers and bills of lading to write 
poetry, and to serve also as the junior literary critic of the 
" Evening Mirror," which was owned at that time by Willis 
and General Morris. One of the earliest of his letters to be 


preserved dates from this period. It is a note of acknow- 
ledgment to James T. Fields for a copy of Longfellow's 
"Hiawatha" sent him for review. With its engaging 
touch of nineteen-year old dignity it is of sufficient interest 
to be printed here : — 

New York, Nov. 10, 1855. 
My dear Sir, — I have just given "The Song of Hia- 
watha" a second reading, and have looked again at the 
pencilled fly-leaf, where you so kindly and delicately turned 
a book that would have been bought into a gift of friend- 
ship. You will add to the favor by accepting my thanks. 
I send you a copy of the "Evening Mirror," containing a 
meagre notice of the book, which I penned after a hasty 
perusal. Though it may show want of critical acumen, it 
also shows that Mr. Longfellow and his books are very 
dear to your 

Friend and Servant, 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich. 

How sincere was his affection for Longfellow and his 
poetry may also be seen in this passage from a fervid 
youthful letter written about the same time to Mr. Win- 

"You speak warmly in praise of your poet friend. I join 
you with my heart, in every word. I think this world must 
be lovelier in God's eye for holding such men as Longfel- 
low. ... I will tell you why I like him so much, and how 
I came to write verse. 


" One evening, more than five years ago, I was sitting on 
the doorstep of 'the old house where I was born' with as 
heavy a heart as a child ever had. A very dear friend had 
been borne over that threshold a while before, and, as I 
watched the shadows of the trees opposite grow deeper, 
/ longed for her. I missed a hand that used to touch my 
hair so gently! 

"I was not, in those days, fond of reading poetry, though 
I feasted on prose. By chance a volume of poems was in my 
hand. It was the ' Voices of the Night.' I opened it at ' The 
Footsteps of Angels.' Never before did I feel such a gush 
of emotion. The poem spoke to me like a human voice ; 
and from that time I loved Longfellow, and I wrote poetry 
— such as it is." 

Just at the end of 1855 an ill wind for certain of his con- 
temporaries blew our young poet a notable piece of luck. 
The "Evening Mirror" was but a minor interest of its 
owners; the mainstay of their fortunes was the "Home 
Journal," then at the height of its prestige, with Willis as 
editor, and a young EngHshman, James Parton, as sub- 
editor. Between the twain displeasures arose. There had 
appeared one day in the office Willis's sister Sarah, better 
known as "Fanny Fern," the author of "Fern Leaves" 
and other popular works in the sentimental kind ; she had 
lately divorced her second husband and was solicitous of 
serializing in the "Home Journal" a novel, just finished, 
with "the heart-throb" in it. Willis read it, but, editorial 
judgment prevailing over fraternal affection, declined to 


give it a place in his pages. Parton, on the other hand, read 
it, and roundly accused his chief of an error in judgment. 
So far did he carry his championship that, despite the lady's 
somewhat disconcerting matrimonial record and her eleven 
years' seniority, he contracted an engagement of marriage 
with her, which was speedily fulfilled. The result was that 
he lost his post on the "Home Journal," whether by free or 
forced resignation does not appear, and, after an inter- 
regnum of a few months, the young poet-reviewer of the 
"Evening Mirror" was taken on in his stead. 

Willis at this time was beginning to feel the approach of 
the malady that eventually caused his death, and spent 
much time away from the oflSce, at Idlewild, his country- 
place on the Hudson, leaving Aldrich to shape the more 
immediate destinies of the paper. We get in the reminis- 
cences of those years some charming pictures of the golden- 
haired boy of twenty sitting in state in the august editorial 
chair, with a dignity no doubt enhanced by the fact that he 
also occupied the post of "literary adviser" to the kalei- 
doscopic publishing firm of Derby & Jackson. One of his 
favorite reminiscences was of an occasion during one of 
Willis's absences when, seated at his desk, he was compos- 
ing with due deliberation an editorial which seemed to him 
at the time likely to arrest the ruinous course of national 
events. His cogitations were rudely disturbed by a loud 
stranger, who, after purchasing from an underling some 
back numbers of the paper, turned to the absorbed editor 
with, ''Say, bub, get me a piece of string, will you?" 


It was here that he had his first taste of hard work, as may 
be seen by this paragraph from an early letter : "I had no 
idea of what work is till I became *sub.' I have found that 
reading proof and writing articles on uninteresting sub- 
jects, 'at sight/ is no joke. The cry for *more copy' rings 
through my ears in dreams, and hosts of little phantom 
printer's devils walk over my body all night and prick me 
with sharp-pointed types. Last evening I fell asleep in my 
armchair and dreamed that they were about to put me 'to 
press,' as I used to crush flies between the leaves of my 
speller, in schoolboy days." 

His position with the "Home Journal," however, carried 
many compensating advantages. It seems in particular to 
have enlarged his circle, and placed him on terms of com- 
radeship with Bayard Taylor, Stoddard, and the rest. 
This warm little note to Taylor is the first in the long series 
recording what was perhaps the closest of his early friend- 
ships : — 

Derby & Jackson's, 
Aug. 29, 1856. 

My dear Taylor, — Stoddard has given me a chance to 
send you a note in his letter, but has allowed me so little 
time to prepare one, that I must limit myself to wishing you 
good health, propitious gales, cornucopias of happiness, 
and everything else that a fine Poet deserves ! 

I most sincerely envy you your t6te-k-tete with Barry 
Cornwall. I should like to handle some of those unpub- 
lished MSS. If you meet Tennyson and Arnold, please 


send Stoddard or me a long description of them. I should 
be happy to get a line from you — yes, a poetical one. May 
God bless you, Taylor. 

Your friend, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

Sub-editorial labors seemed for a time likely to impede 
his progress in poetry. In September, 1856, he wrote to 
Fields : — 

"Do you remember Parsons' traveller, who, stopping at 

an inn, had 

" * Little to eat and very much to pay,' 

or something of the sort ? I occupy a similar position. The 
'Home Journal's' motto is: — 

" * Pretty good pay but very much to do !' 

I have turned from a 'literary Bohemian' (as Mrs. Stod- 
dard calls me) to that mythical and underrated individual 
called ' a sub.' I am 'glad of this ' for a good many reasons, 
one of which is I can do more for the books which you so 
considerately send me than hitherto. 

"But alas for Poetry! 

"Pegasus refuses to trot in editorial harness, point- 
blank. . . . 

"From some 50 poems which I have written since the 
(cow) 'Bells' was published, I have selected 25 which I 
think will pass critical muster — 15 of which are better, 
to my taste, than the ' Pastoral Hymn.' Here the propo- 
sition comes in: I propose, in a month or so, to copy 


these poems in book-form and send them to you for pe- 
rusal ; if you think they will pay you (never mind me) they 
shall be at your service. I should like to get a volume out 
by next Spring, but am willing to wait four summers ; so 
I shall not be very disappointed and not a bit hurt if you 
refuse. You have already been too kind to me. I shall 
probably write but little poetry for a year to come, and am 
as well prepared to make a collection now as I will be then. 
Those friends who advised me not to print *The Bells,' tell 
me to publish now, but I come to you. Headquarters, for 
good advice. In reading the poems, please do not consider 
me any more than you would 'Jones,' or 'Smith' (not 
Alex), or ' Brown.' Shall I send you my MS ? I await your 

Fields seems to have advised against the venture, for 
Aldrich's only publication in verse in 1856 was a privately 
printed "Nest of Sonnets," of which he later destroyed the 
entire edition. But one of these sonnets has been preserved. 
"Ghosts" was revised and reprinted in his volumes of 
1859 and 1863, and with still further revision it stands as 
"Eidolons" in his collected works. 

His most ambitious book of the year was to be in prose. 
Early in 1856 he contributed to the " Sunday Atlas " a serial 
story entitled "Daisy's Necklace and What Came of It," 
which was published in book-form by Derby & Jackson in 
the fall of that year, with the date of 1857. " Daisy's Neck- 
lace" purports to be a burlesque of the sentimental novels 
of the " Alonzo and Melissa" type, which were at that time 


vastly popular in these states, but the burlesque inheres 
wholly in the humorous Prologue and Appendices. Read- 
ing it to-day, one can scarcely doubt that it was originally 
composed by its author as a serious venture in popular 
novel- writing. There is a fervor in many passages that pre- 
cludes the possibility of the burlesque mood. But when it 
was finished Aldrich's sense of humor seems to have 
awakened, revealed to him the absurdity of the perform- 
ance, and determined him to turn it all to laughter at the 

Additional color is lent to the supposition that the melan- 
choly '* Daisy's Necklace" was not in the first instance 
intended as a burlesque by the fact that at the time of its 
composition Aldrich was not in his wonted sound physical 
tone. Throughout his life his bodily health was excep- 
tional. Save in 1856 and 1857, — and again in the early 
sixties, — there is scarcely a mention of illness, his own at 
least, in all the mass of correspondence. But in the sum- 
mer of this latter year he wrote to Stoddard from Ports- 
mouth : " I fear that I am quite ill and shall ruin my health 
if I continue my sedentary kind of life." Apparently a 
youthful and not altogether prosperous love-affair, of which 
we shall hear more later, had something to do with this 
uncharacteristic depression. 

After the first, however, his activity in verse- writing suf- 
fered no abatement. He continued to turn out fluent lyrics 
of the vers de socUU type, with an occasional venture in a 
deeper vein. Whoever would read these now must seek 


them in old files of the "Atlas," ''The Home Journal," 
and the "Knickerbocker Magazine," then nearing its end. 
But it was characteristic of him then, as it was all his life, 
to care little for the brief success of a magazine poem, 
and despite the advice of Fields he was soon meditating 
another book. He was not, however, altogether trustful 
of himself, and finally, in the fall of 1857, applied in his 
dubiety to Willis for advice. In return he received this 
wisdom : — 

"It is no harm to keep publishing, that I know of. Of 
course, you give handles to your critics now, which you 
would not with years. But you are young and can stand it. 
And, after all, there is something in ' damnable iteration.' 
I should be sorry for you if you had not faults, and the more 
critics can find to blame, the more they will praise — / 
found that out, long ago." 

This advice, chiming so consonantly with his ovm in- 
clinations, appealed to him as sound, and in the spring of 
1858 he appeared before the public with a slender volume 
entitled, "The Course of True Love never did Run 
Smooth." The poem, an Arabic love-story told in a series 
of richly painted episodes, was prefaced by an affectionate 
dedication to Stoddard, "under whose fingers this story 
would have blossomed into true Arabian roses." The little 
book was all compact of ripening promise. Despite its 
sensuous musky subject, its structure is sound and cleanly- 
limned, and there is a fine dramatic reserve in the right 
places. From the whole volume Aldrich retained in later 

N. P. WILLIS IN 1856 


collections but two brief passages, the perfect song begin- 
ning, — 

" O cease, sweet music, let us rest," 

and the fine descriptive fragment known as ** Dressing the 
Bride." Yet throughout there were clear foretastes of the 
true Aldrichian flavor. Not the least pleasing result of its 
publication was the letter that it brought the young poet 
from Longfellow — the first of many. 

"The poem," the elder poet wrote, "is very charming, 
full of color and perfume as a rose. I congratulate you on 
your success. Sometime when you are passing through 
Boston, I wish you would find time, or make it, to swerve 
aside as far as Cambridge and the old Washington head- 
quarters. It would give me great pleasure to make your 
personal acquaintance and to assure you of the interest I 
take in your career." 

By the summer of 1858 Aldrich, at the age of twenty- 
two, was thus in the full tide of his early success. He 
was likewise as intimate as he ever became with the wits 
and poets of that lively "Literary Bohemia" of New York 
half a century ago. It is time, then^ to pause in our tem- 
poral march and call the roll of his early friends. Some 
of the men to be enumerated did not come to terms 
of intimacy with him until a year or two after the mo- 
ment of which we are writing, but as members of the 
New York circle may be most conveniently introduced 

Of the older men he knew best, of course, his chiefs, 


Willis and General George P. Morris, author of "Wood- 
man, spare that tree," which had just achieved a mundane 
immortality by being quoted in full in the course of a 
debate in the English Parliament on the integrity of the 
British Constitution. Halleck he seems to have known 
well, and with Whitman there are records of several meet- 
ings, though not of the most sympathetic nature. With 
Curtis, who was some years his senior, there grew up a 
pleasant acquaintance which later ripened into friendship. 
He came also into friendly relations with F. S. Cozzens, 
the wine-merchant and humorist, author of the capital 
" Sparrowgrass Papers"; and he seems to have had some 
acquaintance with Bryant. 

The nearer circle of his contemporaries consisted of 
Bayard Taylor, the Stoddards, Stedman, Mr. Winter, 
Edwin Booth, Launt Thompson the sculptor, and a group 
of journalists and magazine- writers of great repute in their 
own day, but as remote as Prester John to ours, — Henry 
Clapp, Jr., Ada Clare, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, George Arnold, 
and Fitz James O'Brien. The careers of Bayard Taylor 
and Edwin Booth are known to all men, and Launt 
Thompson's admirable busts of Booth and Bryant and 
heroic statues of Generals Scott and Burnside have given 
him the sculptor's immortality so strangely blended of 
tangible and shadowy elements. The three young men of 
the group that with Aldrich survived the century, Sted- 
man, Stoddard, and Mr. Winter, writers all of both poetry 
and prose, have become familiar names. It is perhaps 


something more than a coincidence that all four were 
New England boys. 

Concerning the others who have gone the way of the 
journalists of yester-year a word of introduction may not 
be out of place. Henry Clapp, Jr., perhaps the intensest 
personality of the group, the "King of Bohemia," was a 
clever, morose little man, a hater of the brownstone re- 
spectability of his day. He died in middle life after a 
brilliant but far from prosperous career in variegated 
journalism. Jane McElhinney, or "Ada Clare," the beau- 
tiful and talented girl who was known as the " Queen of 
Bohemia," after a brief prismatic flight in literary jour- 
nalism, married an actor and soon after died tragically of 
hydrophobia contracted from the bite of a pet dog. Her 
vivid temperament may be studied by the curious in her 
novel, " Only a Woman's Heart." Fitz Hugh Ludlow made 
a success with his weird "Hasheesh Eater," which he was 
never afterwards able to equal. He died in 1870. Hand- 
some George Arnold's sincere and melodious verse was 
collected after his early death by Mr. Winter, in whose 
introduction we may read the story of his kindly, inef- 
fective life. 

Of the group that failed to come through, perhaps the 
most engaging personality, and the one dearest to Aldrich, 
was Fitz James O'Brien. Born in Ireland in 1826, O'Brien 
had, as a young man, run through a bequest of ;£8ooo, 
in two years, and come to New York to make a Hving with 
his pen. At first he was connected with a forgotten peri- 


odical called the "Lantern." "When I first knew him," 
said Aldrich in one of his letters, "he was trimming the 
wick of the ^Lantern,' which went out shortly afterwards." 
After the extinguishing of this luminary he became a 
free lance, contributing stories and poems to all the best 
periodicals of the day; and in "The Diamond Lens," writ- 
ten during a visit at 105 Clinton Place, and printed in the 
first volume of the "Atlantic Monthly," he achieved a tale 
of mystery and marvel that still ranks among the finest 
American short stories. At the outbreak of the war he en- 
listed as an officer in the Union army and was mortally 
wounded in an unimportant cavalry skirmish in February, 

Of the warm, peppery friendship between Aldrich and 
O'Brien there are numerous memorabilia. The former 
liked to tell how once when he had loaned O'Brien forty 
dollars for the purchase of a suit of clothes the latter had 
indulged in malversation of the funds to the extent of 
giving a dinner with them. "He did n't even invite me," 
Aldrich would say sadly. A little later, owing to some mis- 
understanding between them, O'Brien challenged Aldrich 
to fight a duel. The matter was amicably arranged by 
Aldrich's pointing out to the Irishman that according to 
the "punctilio of the duello" it was incorrect to challenge a 
person while one owed him money. There is a pleasant 
anecdote, that once, when Aldrich was living en gargon 
at 105 CUnton Place in the absence of the Frost family, 
O'Brien said to him, "Let's live for a week after the 


Venetian manner." ''What's that?" said Aldrich. "Why, 
sleep all day and live all night," was the reply. They tried 
it for a time, exploring the streets all night and going to 
bed at seven A. M., but it seems soon to have palled on 

Indeed, despite his close friendship with many of the 
men, Aldrich never went very far with the self-conscious 
Bohemianism that, transplanted from its native Paris soil, 
put forth few blossoms of other than a dubious fragrance. 
He was an occasional attendant at the compotations at 
Pfaff's celebrated resort in the basement of 647 Broadway. 
But there is plenty of evidence that he was usually glad 
to escape to the quiet of his little hall-room. There was a 
kind of critical reserve at the root of his temperament that 
always made noisy and promiscuous hilarity distasteful to 
him.' Throughout his life he liked better a friend or two 
with their pipes than a brilHant roomful. There is a pas- 
sage in that letter from Mr. Child that "had something 
spectral about it," that throws a light on the current of 
the young poet's thoughts: "And our conversations upon 
immortal life in the hall bedroom of 105, its oUve-tinted 
walls, the window with parted golden silk curtains, lumi- 
nous with the sunshine of the long mornings of early 
summer, — the geraniums on the window-sill, — the cot 
bed you slept in, how clearly the enchanting picture comes 
to my inside eyes!" 

In a poem of Aldrich's later years, a poem of which the 
autobiographic significance can scarcely be overestimated, 


the thing is explicitly said with the haunting emphasis of 
poesy : — 

"In youth beside the lonely sea, 
Voices and visions came to me. . . . 

" From every flower that broke in flame 
Some half -articulate whisper came. 

"In every wind I felt the stir 
Of some celestial messenger. 

"Later, amid the city's din 
And toil and wealth and want and sin, 

"They followed me from street to street, 
The dreams that made my boyhood sweet. 

"As in the silence-haunted glen. 
So, mid the crowded ways of men, 

"Strange lights my errant fancy led, 
Strange watchers watched beside my bed." 

The most momentous result of Aldrich's association with 
the Bohemians was that when, in October, 1858, a new 
paper called the ''Saturday Press" was started by Clapp, 
to carry pure literature, as it was conceived by the Bohe- 
mians, to express epigrammatic views of current pre- 
tences, Aldrich became an associate editor, along with 
O'Brien and Mr. Winter. For a few months apparently 
he combined this with his work on the "Home Journal," 
but early in 1859 he seems to have abandoned the latter 
post and devoted himself wholly to the "Saturday Press" 
and miscellaneous writing. 


The vivacity and epigrammatic valor of the " Saturday- 
Press" gave it a sucds cfestime, at least, from its first incep- 
tion. On December 17, 1858, Aldrich wrote to F. H. 
Underwood, assistant editor of the "Atlantic : " " The ' Sat- 
urday Press' is on its feet. It is growing. It will be a 
paper." For the first year of its life its young editors were 
in very hopeful spirits. In his "Literary Friends and 
Acquaintance" Mr. Howells has given one of his incom- 
parably vivid and faithful impressions of the "Saturday 
Press" and the tone of its office: — 

"It would not be easy to say just why the Bohemian 
group represented New York literature to my imagination, 
for I certainly associated other names with its best work, 
but perhaps it was because I had written for the * Saturday 
Press' myself, and had my pride in it, and perhaps it was 
because that paper really embodied the new literary life 
of the city. It was clever, and full of the wit that tries its 
teeth upon everything. It attacked all literary shams but 
its own, and it made itself felt and feared. The young 
writers throughout the country were ambitious to be seen 
in it, and they gave their best to it ; they gave literally, for 
the * Saturday Press ' never paid in anything but hopes of 
paying, vaguer even than promises. It is not too much to 
say that it was very nearly as well for one to be accepted by 
the 'Press' as to be accepted by the * Atlantic,' and for the 
time there was no other Hterary comparison. To be in it 
was to be in the company of Fitz James O'Brien, Fitz Hugh 
Ludlow, Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Stedman, and whoever else was 


liveliest in prose or loveliest in verse at that day in New 
York. It was a power, and although it is true that, as 
Henry Giles said of it, * Man cannot live by snapping-turtle 
alone,' the * Press' was very good snapping-turtle. Or, it 
seemed so then ; I should be almost afraid to test it now, for 
I do not like snapping-turtle so much as I once did, and I 
have grown nicer in my taste, and want my snapping-turtle 
of the very best. What is certain is that I went to the office 
of the * Saturday Press' in New York with much the same 
sort of feeling I had in going to the office of the * Atlantic 
Monthly' in Boston, but I came away with a very different 
feeUng. I had found there a bitterness against Boston as 
great as the bitterness against respectability, and as Boston 
was then rapidly becoming my second country, I could not 
join in the scorn thought of her and said of her by the 
Bohemians. I fancied a conspiracy among them to shock 
the literary pilgrim, and to minify the precious emotions 
he had experienced in visiting other shrines; but I found 
no harm in that, for I knew just how much to be shocked, 
and I thought I knew better how to value certain things 
of the soul than they. Yet when their chief asked me how I 
got on with Hawthorne, and I began to say that he was very 
shy and I was rather shy, and the King of Bohemia took 
his pipe out to break in upon me with ' Oh, a couple of 
shysters!' and the rest laughed, I was abashed all they 
could have wished, and was not restored to myself till one 
of them said that the thought of Boston made him as ugly as 
sin ; then I began to hope again that men who took them- 

From a caricature by George Arnold 


selves so seriously as that need not be taken very seriously 
by me.'' 

The youthful associate editor seems to have served the 
paper faithfully, writmg his due quota of its "Hugoish 
paragraphs of one or more syllables," sharing in the ed- 
itorial councils, and even joining in the defence when, as 
was not uncommon, persons whose names had been men- 
tioned in the "Press" endeavored to carry the office by 
assault, vi et armis. It was in this office, too, and in his 
intermittent frequentation of Pfaff's that his wit was tem- 
pered. It was give and take there by the brightest minds 
in New York. The retold story and the repeated hon mot 
were rigorously barred, but the new good thing was sure 
of applause. In this fierce light Aldrich at first played a 
shrinking part, but soon he became known as the wielder 
of a rapier that no man cared to trifle with. Yet, as hereto- 
fore, his secure fineness of quality kept him from taking 
too deep a color of cynicism from his circle, or adopting 
its pose. There were many other phases of his life that 
tended to correct the provincialism of Bohemia, which is 
of all provinciaUsms perhaps the narrowest. In 1858 and 
1859 he read poems at several college commencements, in 
company with such orators as Everett, Phillips, and Curtis ; 
and his summers of young sentiment in Portsmouth took 
him far from the coasts of Bohemia. In July, 1859, he wrote 
to Stoddard from Portsmouth : " I 'm in clover as you may 
imagine. To see her every day I Ah, well, — brush the dust 
off your courtship days and you will understand me." 


In the same summer he communicated to Stoddard the 
interesting fact that he had begun a short novel ''with a 
splendid title — ' Glass Houses,' " — and added, " God 
knows when I shall finish it." It was, indeed, never fin- 
ished, and his only publication of the year in book-form 
was "The Ballad of Babie Bell, and Other Poems." In 
thisTolume we find for the first time a sprinkling of pieces 
that have gone into the body of his poetic work. Besides 
the titular poem, the volume contained "Cloth of Gold," 
"We knew it would Rain," "After the Rain," "Nameless 
Pain," "Palabras Carinosas," "When the Sultan goes to 
Ispahan," and the "Invocation to Sleep," together with 
two-score pieces of a less disciplined poetic temper that 
Aldrich wisely discarded in the course of years. It was this 
volume, apparently, that the poet had chiefly in mind 
when he wrote "L'Envoi" that appeared fifteen years later 
at the end of "Cloth of Gold, and Other Poems": — 

*' This is my youth, its hopes and dreams, 
How strange and shadowy it all seems 

After these many years ! 
Turning the pages idly, so, 
I look with smiles upon the woe, 

Upon the joy with tears!" 

After the publication of "The Ballad of Babie Bell, and 
Other Poems" in 1859, there were for the first time a few 
critics who publicly recognized the peculiar individuality of 
the best work in it and defined not unprecisely that keen and 
unmistakable flavor that is now instantly suggested to the 


true lover of poetry by the name of Aldrich. Mr. Howells, 
writing in the "Saturday Press," phrased this quality with 
a penetrating felicity : — 

"In the volume before me (I got that out of my inkhorn- 
fuU of newspaper expressions), I like best of all the little 
poem * Nameless Pain.' It is the worthiest proof that Mr. 
Aldrich is a poet, and better than an epic for him. All 
hearts, however dulled by care, and doubt, and wrong, feel 
sometimes the Nameless Pain, only different in degree. 
How it thrills and trembles in the heart of the poet he has 
— described ? No. Expressed ? No. We do not, even the 
greatest-tongued of us, describe or express intense sensa- 
tion. The best that any can do is to let the soul be seen 
for an instant with the secret lightning of feeling playing 
through it, and illuming it — flammae inter nuhes. 

"And this is not to be done by any elaboration of 
words, but suddenly and briefly, as Heine does it in 
his Hne-long revelations of Passion and Sorrow, in that 
rhyme commencing — 

" * Mein Herz, mein Herz ist traurig, 
Doch lustig leuchtet der Mai, 
Ich stehe gelehnt an der Linde, 
Hoch auf der alten Bastei.* 

" The picture of the boy fishing in the lazy moat, the far- 
seen fields and meadows, the pleasure-houses, the maidens 
bleaching the linen, the mill-wheel scattering its diamonds 
with its ^ j ernes Gesumm^'^ and the sentry on the old gray 
tower, marching up and down before his box, with his 


musket twinkling in the sun, and at last the imagination 
brought back to the sad haupt-figur of the scene, with this 
passionate cry — 

" * Ich wollte er schosset mir todt!* 

" This is the art which makes me doubt art ; and this is 
the art which I love in Mr. Aldrich's poem of ' Nameless 

Early in i860 the "Saturday Press" came to the usual 
end of such belletristic enterprises. As the editor stated 
in his last valediction, " This paper is discontinued for lack 
of funds, which is, by a coincidence, precisely the reason for 
which it was started." Aldrich took the failure with a light 
heart. His relation to the paper had never been more than 
an elastic one, and even had there been more cause for 
discouragement, an event soon occurred which would have 
availed to cheer him. For three years he had been sending 
verse to the "Atlantic Monthly," then firmly established 
as the arbiter of taste in America, with, for one reason or 
another, ill success. But one fine morning in April, i860, 
his mail contained this note : — 

Cambridge, i8th April, i860. 
My dear Sir, — I welcome you heartily to the "Atlan- 
tic." When I receive so fine a poem as "Pythagoras," I 
don't think the check of Messrs. Ticknor & Fields pays for 
it. I must add some thanks and appreciation. I have put 
it down for June. Very truly yours, 

J. R. Lowell. 


Twenty-five years later, when Aldrich in his turn had 
become editor of the "Atlantic," he accepted a poem that 
Lowell sent him with a copy of this note. Lowell promptly 
called at the office to say that he was so enheartened by the 
recognition that he had about made up his mind to follow 
literature as a profession. 

"Pythagoras," later known as "The Metempsychosis," 
Aldrich's most ambitious poem thus far, was printed in due 
course, and was followed by a round of plaudits that it is 
hard for us — in these days when magazine verse is seldom 
taken seriously save by the very young — even to conceive. 
Our poet was no longer the laureate of Bohemia. In the 
five years to come we shall find him still living in New 
York, it is true, and still on terms of friendship with many 
of the Bohemians, yet constantly extending the radius of 
his poetic reputation, steadily advancing in characteristic 
achievement, and — what was to prove still more important 
in his life — rapidly strengthening his personal relations 
with the writers of the New England group 



THE summer of i860 found Aldrich free for the nonce 
from all journalistic and editorial ties, happy as a 
lark in his freedom, and similarly employed in song. For 
the sake of an effective chapter beginning it would be 
pleasant to allude to the thunder-clouds of civil war that 
were darkening over the country and trace their effect in 
the deepening of the young poet's mood. This will have to 
be done a page or two farther on, but for the present the 
veracious historian must content himself with portraying 
a mind happily preoccupied with poetical projects, and 
more concerned with rhymes than rebellions. 

In July he cruised comfortably down to Portsmouth in 
his uncle's yacht, and there entered upon another of those 
idyllic seasons that played so important a role in the fur- 
nishing of his imagination. A letter to Stoddard will help 
us to revive the spirit of that vanished summer : — 

Sunday Morning, August, i860. 

Dear Dick, — A mummy could n't have been more 
silent than I ever since my arrival in these latitudes. But 
the spirit of the epistolary pen has seized me this morning 


and I am going to fill a page or so for the improvement of 
your mind. Don't fancy that pen and I have been strangers 
these five weeks. Bayard Taylor couldn't write more 
verse than I have in the same number of days. I have two 
$30 poems on hand, sold two to the "Atlantic," and sent 
one to " Harper." " The Song of Fatima" in the September 
number of the "Atlantic" is mine. A lyric, "The Robin," 
will be in the October number. I am forty lines into a 
blank-verse story. So you see I have been doing better 
things than writing letters. Is the "little party" with you 
yet? Has she been writing great, big passionate little 
stories and picturesque poems all summer? I would like 
to compare poetical notes with her. . . . Good Lord, 
how contented I am here ! I hate a city more than I do 
the devil. I would like to have this sea and sky and forest 
around me forever. ... I shall have a host of things to 
tell you and Lizzy about the yacht trip. Give my love to 
her and the Taylors, to Mrs. Penelope and Mr. Ulysses. 
Your friend, Tom. 

"Sea and sky and forest," however, lose something of 
their charm with the falling of the leaves, and in the au- 
tumn Aldrich went back very contentedly to his little room 
at 105 Clinton Place. He seems to have had during this win- 
ter of 1860-61 no regular connection with any periodical, 
and to have employed his time as the singing impulse urged. 
In the summer he had written to Fields from Portsmouth 
again proposing the publication of a volume of his poetry : — 


"You know that any time these five years I have wanted 
Ticknor & Fields to publish a small volume of poems for me 
— the idea, therefore, will not win your heart by its novelty ! 
Sometime in September I shall have a small book ready for 
the types. It will contain poems published in the 'Atlantic' 
and 'Harper,' several of which have made me new friends. 
Rudd & Carleton have brought out two volumes of mine : 
they sold 2200 copies of 'True Love' and 3000 of 'Babie 
Bell' ; and are willing to try me again, but I would rather 
have your imprint if possible. It would be of such service 
to me. I write to you before binding myself with Rudd & 
Carleton. What cheer?" 

Fields, however, took the view that the time was still 
unripe for such a venture, at least so far as his own house 
was concerned, and when early in 1861 "Pampinea,^ and 
Other Poems" was published it was over the imprint of 
Rudd & Carleton. Upon its cover the volume bore the 
title "Poems of a Year," which led a wicked reviewer to 
describe it as " Poems of a Yearling." Yet it merited the 
title vastly less than its predecessors. It contained of pieces 
that have been retained "Pythagoras," "Pampinea" (a 
poetic recollection of his past summer), " Hesperides," 
"The Crescent and the Cross," "Piscataqua River," and 
"The Lunch " ; and the poems since discarded — largely 
longer pieces, in the ballad vein not uncolored with maca- 
beresque — were more mature in both temper and execu- 
tion than their fellows in his previous collections. Of all 
1 Later spelled Pampina. 


the poems in the volume perhaps the one that lingers long- 
est in the memory is the smooth yet ardent celebration 
of the well-beloved river of his boyhood adventures. Few 
readers will dissent from this view of Longfellow's : — 

"As each guest at a feast selects the wine that pleases him 
most, so each reader of a volume finds out his favorite lyric. 
Mine is 'Piscataqua' of i860. With all their beauties the 
others play mostly in the realm of Fancy; but this lives, 
moves, and has its being in the realm of Imagination, 
* clothing the palpable and familiar with golden exhala- 
tions of the dawn.' The river will always be more beautiful 
for that song!" 

Yet, despite its poetic quality, or perhaps because of 
it, — because it so nearly attained full ripeness without 
quite reaching it, — Aldrich was always more anxious 
to suppress the "Poems of a Year" than any other of 
his early volumes. Throughout his later life he bought and 
destroyed every copy that he discovered in the auction 
catalogues. AU told he played Herod to some twenty-five 

With the cheerful liberty of a free lance Aldrich went 
down again to Portsmouth very early in the spring of 186 1, 
and now we begin to find the sombre shadow of the war 
upon the page in earnest. In December, i860, he had 
written a poem entitled "The Man and the Hour," — 
afterwards printed in the "Poems of a Year," which con- 
cluded with this eloquent foreshadowing, we may believe, 
of the career of Abraham Lincoln : — 


" Men of this land and lovers of these States ! 
What master spirit from the dark shall rise : 
And with a will inviolate as fate's, 

God-like and prudent, merciful and wise, 
Do battle in God's name and set us right 
Ere on our glory ruin broods and night!" 

And throughout the spring and summer, the season that 
saw the fall of Fort Sumter and the disaster at Bull Run, 
the poet had no other thought than that of serving his 
country on field or wave. In April he wrote a letter to 
Governor Goodwin applying for an appointment on the 
staff of the colonel in command of the New Hampshire 
regiment. There seems to have been some delay in the 
decision, and when some weeks later a telegram arrived 
announcing his appointment to the staff of General Lan- 
der, Aldrich was away from home and the message never 
reached him. In consequence the appointment went to 
Fitz James O'Brien, with the result that, as Henry Clapp 
used to say, "Aldrich was shot in O'Brien's shoulder." 

Lander, too, an intimate friend of our poet, gave his 
life in the country's service, dying early in 1862 as the 
result of a wound that was given no time to heal. Al- 
drich 's collection of 1863 contained this elegy, which was 
never afterwards reprinted : — 

" Take him. New England, now his work is done. 
He fought the Good Fight valiantly — and won. 
Speak of his daring. This man held his blood 
Cheaper than water for the Nation's good. 
Rich Mountain, Fairfax, Romney — he was there. 


** Speak of him gently, of his mien, his air; 
How true he was, how his strong heart could bend 
With sorrow, like a woman's, for a friend: 
Intolerant of every mean desire ; 
Ice where he liked not; where he loved, all fire. 

" Take him, New England, gently. Other days, 
Peaceful and prosperous, shall give him praise. 
How will our children's children breathe his name, 
Bright on the shadowy muster-roll of fame ! 
Take him, New England, gently; you can fold 
No purer patriot in your soft brown mould." 

Aldrich was chagrined at the miscarriage in the matter 
of the military appointment, and his mood was for the time 
still further depressed by the course of his youthful affair 
of the heart, which in this summer ended, as a first love 
should, unhappily. His temper at the time is apparent in 
this letter to the Stoddards : — 

Portsmouth, N. H., August, 1861. 

Dear Dick and Lizzy, — Your small note dropped in 
between me and my necessity like a wild- flower in the 
crevice of a spHt rock (you must n't prig this Very Neat 
Thing for your Novel, Mrs. Lizzy) ; for you must know that 
it found me in bed where I had been laid up for a week. 
Yesterday was my first day out. I have not forgotten my 
promise to visit the Stoddard House this summer; but I 
must delay my visit until I pass through Boston on my 
way to New York — if I ever go to New York again. You 
will please not mention the fact, but it is Hkely that I shall 
get a place on board of one of the three men-of-war that 


are fitting out at our Navy Yard. Waiting to see the Com- 
mander of the Sabine is one of the circumstances which 
keep me here for the present — my ill-health and a neces- 
sary economy are a couple more. 

I have got a prose volume ready for the press. // is good. 
I have also got a thing not so easy to get — a publisher, 
when the times come favorable — ah, woeful " When ! " . . . 
From your friend, Tom. 

The project of obtaining a berth on a war vessel came 
to nought, too, and the post of naval laureate was to be 
brilliantly occupied by Henry Howard Brownell. Never- 
theless Aldrich, distinguished as he always was for a cer- 
tain belligerency of temperament, could not rest content 
until he had smelt powder. Following Stedman's exam- 
ple, he applied for work as a war correspondent, and in 
the fall of 1 86 1 went to the front as a representative of the 
" Tribune," attached to General Blenker's division of the 
Army of the Potomac. Of his experiences in the field he 
had many vivid memories, — a typical one may be told 
in his own words in a letter to his mother written from 
Washington, October 30, 1861 : — 

" I have just returned from a long ride into the enemy's 
country. I have been on horseback two days — and two 
nights, I was going to say, but I did get out of the saddle 
to sleep. What a strange time I had of it. House of the 
New York ' Tribune ' and myself started on a reconnois- 
sance under the wing of General Stapel and staff. We had 


dee^u.^.^ £u^ Q^e^ }h'n^^ c^^^^^C^ ^^ 




T 1861 


not ridden an hour through those wonderful Virginia woods 
when I got separated from the party, and haven't laid 
eyes on 'em since — excepting Ned House, who has just 
reached Washington, having given me up for lost. I don't 
quite know how it was, but suddenly I found myself alone 
in a tangle of dense forest and unknown roads. Close on 
the rebel lines, not knowing quite in what direction, with- 
out a guide, and nothing to eat — you may imagine that 
I wished myself on the harmless banks of the Piscataqua. 
Well, I did. To crown all, a moonless night was darkening 
down on the terrible stillness ; and as the darkness grew I 
caught glimpses of lurid camp-fires here and there — a 
kind of goblin glare which lent an indescribable mystery 
and unpleasantness to the scene. Whether these were the 
camp-fires of friend or foe I had no means of telling. I put 
spurs to my horse and dashed on — now by the black ruins 
of a burnt farmhouse, now by some shadowy ford where a 
fight had evidently taken place, for I saw trees that had 
been barked by cannon-balls, and here and there significant 
mounds under which slept New England iDraves. I did not 
feel alone at such places ; for my fancy beheld long lines of 
infantry, and parks of artillery, and squares of cavalry, 
moving among the shadows, in a noiseless conflict. I wish 
I'd time to tell you of the ride — how I stole by the senti- 
nels, and at last feeling that I was going straight to Manas- 
sas, stopt and held a council of war with T. B. A. It 
dawned on me that Washington lay in the east. The sun 
was sinking directly before me in the westj so I sensibly 


turned my horse and rode back. Gracious heavens ! how 
many miles I must have ridden! To make a long story 
short, I slept on my horse's neck in the woods, we two lying 
cosily together, and at sunrise, oh so hungry, I saw far off 
the dome of the Capitol and the Long Bridge. Here I am, 
a year older in looks. I have feasted, and after this is 
mailed shall go to bed and sleep three days." 

In later years he would tell how, in the course of this 
weary night, he suddenly discovered at the turn of a road 
what seemed in the dim light to be a guide-board. Hope 
sprang in his breast, and he rode eagerly forward to peruse 
it. It was an undertaker's sign ! 

After a few weeks more, the poet decided that his pen 
might be better employed than in war correspondence, and 
early in 1862, in vigorous health from his life in the open 
air, he went back to Portsmouth and Parnassus. Yet his 
brief experience of war with its hardships and horrors, its 
tremendous pictures and heart-rending dramas, was of the 
utmost value in ripening his work. " Quite So," and "The 
White Feather," two of the best of his stories, are the 
fruitage of this experience, and in some of the finest of his 
poems, ''Fredericksburg," "Spring in New England," and 
"The Shaw Memorial Ode," we have the true martial 
thrill in an intensity that could scarcely have been attained 
without the reinforcement of the imagination by living 

In a volume of "Songs of the Soldiers," compiled in 
1864, there is a forgotten piece by Aldrich that may per- 


haps be printed here without incurring the poetic maledic- 
tion that he called down upon whoever should add aught 
to the canon of his poetic works : — 


[I must beg the pardon of Private Maguire, of the New York 

Regiment, for thus publicly putting his sentiments into verse. The fol- 
lowing lyric will assure him that I have not forgotten how generously he 
shared his scanty blanket with me, one terrible night in the Virginia 
WQods, when a blanket was worth fifty dollars an inch.] 


" Och ! 't is nate to be captain or colonel, 
Divil a bit would I want to be higher; 
But to rust as a private, I think 's an infernal 
Predicament surely," says Private Maguire. 

' They can go sparkin' and playin' at billiards, 

With greenbacks to spend for their slightest desire, 

Loafin' and atin' and dhrinkin' at Willard's, 
While we Vg on the pickets," says Private Maguire. 


'Livin' in clover, they think it's a thrifle 

To stand out all night in the rain and the mire, 

And a Rebel hard by with a villainous rifle 
Jist ready to pop ye," says Private Maguire. 

" Faith, now, it 's not that I 'm af ther complainin* ; 
I'm spilin' to meet ye, Jeff Davis, Esquire! 
Ye blag-gard ! — it 's only I 'm weary of thrainin'. 
And thrainin', and thrainin'," says Private Maguire. 



" O Lord, for a row ! but, Maguire, be aisy, • 
Keep yourself sweet for the inemy's fire, 
McClellan *s the spalpeen that shortly will plaze ye, 
Be the holy St. Pathrick!" says Private Maguire. 


"And, lad, if ye 're hit (O, bedad, that eternal 
Jimmy O'Dowd would make up to Maria!), 
Whether ye 're sargeant, or captain, or colonel, 

Ye '11 die with the best, then!" says Private Maguire.^ 

The prose volume mentioned in the letter to Stoddard, 
printed above, was issued early in 1862, with the title " Out 
of His Head, and Other Stories." If any lover of Aldrich's 
prose should happen upon the titular story to-day, minus 
its title-page, he would scarcely guess its authorship. It is 
a rather striking piece of fantastic macaberesque, com- 
posed in paragraphs somewhat too short, after the French 
manner, and with an obvious straining at unusual rhythms. 
With its studied impressionism, its musically phrased 
murder, its lurid picture of the outbreak of the cholera 
in New Orleans, its consistent inorbidezza, — which is not 
quite the same thing as morbidity, — it might almost be 
mistaken for an early tale of Lafcadio Hearn's. Yet at the 
end there is a characteristic smiling "Note by the Editor " 
that is pure Aldrich. 

The other stories in the volume, collected from " Harper's 
Magazine," "The Knickerbocker," and other periodical 

^ Songs of the Soldiers, arranged and edited by Frank Moore, New 
York, 1864. 


sources, contained many foreshadowings of his character- 
istic work in fiction. In particular, "The Lady with the 
Balmoral'* is notable as exhibiting his first use of that 
subtly contrived illumination of surprise at the end which 
was in his later stories almost an habitual effect. One story 
in the volume has gone into his collected works and taken 
rank as one of his most successful ventures in prose, — 
"P^re Antoine's Date-Palm." In its first form here it is 
encased in an elaborate setting of narrative machinery that 
he afterwards abandoned, to its great advantage. Save for 
a private issue of "Pere Antoine's Date-Palm" in 1866, 
Aldrich published no more prose until 1868. In the inter- 
mediate six years his life fell definitely into its appointed 
channel, his temperament attained the happy poise of 
maturity, and his literary faculty reached its full ripeness. 
When next we encounter his prose we shall have to deal not 
with promise but with complete achievement. 

For the year 1862 there is a dearth of correspondence, 
and a resultant difficulty in relating the course of Aldrich's 
life to the succession of the months. Apparently, he occu- 
pied himself with poetical composition and with "literary 
advising" and general helpfulness to the publishing house 
of Rudd & Carleton, and spent a long summer in Ports- 
mouth. He was in Boston a good deal in the course of the 
year, and was the friend — and something more — of a 
charming and clever girl, the ward of one of the great men 
of that city. There even seems to have been what is 
quaintly termed "an understanding" between them. This 


too, however, proved to be but a false dawn, and a year or 
two later the lady married another, but her friendship with 
our poet remained unbroken. 

In the note-book that he kept in his later life, from which 
extracts were printed as "All Sorts of a Paper," Aldrich 
wrote out one of his rare bits of personal reminiscence 
which refers to an event in this summer of 1862 : — 

" This is a page of autobiography, though not written in 
the first person : Many years ago a noted Boston publisher 
used to keep a large memorandum-book on a table in his 
personal office. The volume always lay open, and was in no 
manner a private affair, being the receptacle of nothing 
more important than hastily scrawled reminders to attend 
to this thing or the other. It chanced one day that a very 
young, unfledged author, passing through the city, looked 
in upon the pubKsher, who was also the editor of a famous 
magazine. The unfledged had a copy of verses secreted 
about his person. The publisher was absent, and young 
Milton, feeling that ^they also serve who only stand and 
wait,' sat down and waited. Presently his eye fell upon the 
memorandum-book, lying there spread out like a morning 
newspaper, and almost in spite of himself he read : * Don't 

forget to see the binder,' * Don't forget to mail E his 

contract,' 'Don't forget H 's proofs,' etc. An inspira- 
tion seized upon the youth ; he took a pencil, and at the tail 
of this long list of 'don't forgets' he wrote: 'Don't forget 

to accept A 's poem.' He left his manuscript on the 

table and disappeared. That afternoon, when the publisher 


glanced over his memoranda, he was not a little astonished 
at the last item ; but his sense of humor was so strong that 
he did accept the poem (it required a strong sense of humor 
to do that), and sent the lad a check for it, though the verses 
remain to this day unprinted. That kindly publisher was 
wise as well as kind." 

On the first of January, 1863, there were some changes 
in the management of a popular periodical known as the 
"Illustrated News." Aldrich was installed in the post of 
managing editor, and was thus, after a rather miscellaneous 
three years fruitful in rhyme, once more entrenched behind 
an editorial desk with its clutter of alien tasks. Yet not to 
be forgotten of the Muses, his first proceeding was to pub- 
lish through Carleton a collected edition of his poetry, con- 
taining the pieces he most valued from the first decade of 
his poetic career. 

The compact little volume, bound in blue and gold, 
in genial imitation of the Blue and Gold Series of immortals 
published by Ticknor & Fields, and embellished with an 
exquisite steel engraving of the poet after the medallion by 
his friend Launt Thompson, has now become the choice 
treasure of a few fortunate collectors of Americana. Of 
the fifty pieces in the volume twenty are to be found in the 
definitive Riverside Edition, a notable increase in percent- 
age over any previous volume. The little book is full aUke 
of suggestion for appreciation, and provocation to critical 
discussion, but there is a hitherto unpublished letter from 
Dr. Holmes that renders other comment supererogatory. 


In its mingled urbanity and penetration, it is a model letter 
from a middle-aged author to a young one : — 

My dear Mr. Aldrich, — Thank you very sincerely 
for your book of blossoms. I have just been reading them 
and find them dewy and sweet-scented. "Babie Bell" has 
most of your heart's color in it. "When the Sultan goes to 
Ispahan" is espiegle, lively, poetical — "the moons of their 
full brown bosoms" is succulent and musky. "The Lunch" 
is a little Keatsy, but very neatly carved and colored. 
"Dawn" and "morn," p. 20, "dawning" and "morning," 
p. 46, are, as some kind friend has told you before this, 
inadmissible cockneyisms. This utterance is Rhadaman- 
thine. You must not feed too much on " apricots and dew- 
berries." There is an exquisite sensuousness that shows 
through your words and rounds them into voluptuous swells 
of rhythm as "invisible fingers of air" lift the diaphanous 
gauzes. Do not let it run away with you. You love the 
fragrance of certain words so well that you are in danger 
of making nosegays when you should write poems. 

There are two dangers that beset young poets — young 
American poets at least. The first is being spoiled by the 
praise of women ; the second being disgusted by the praise 
or blame — it makes little difference which — of the 
cheap critics. You may have noticed that our poets do not 
commonly ripen well, — they are larks in the morning, spar- 
rows at noon, and owls before evening. One reason is that 
our shallow universal culture is wanting in severe stand- 






aids of taste and judgment. We have no Fahrenheits and 
Reaumurs and centigrades to gauge our young talent with, 
and allow it to form false estimates of itself. Now your 
forte is sentiment and your danger sentimentality. You 
are an epicure in words and your danger is that of becom- 
ing a verbal voluptuary, — the end of which is rhythmical 
gout and incurable poetical disorder. Let me beg you, by 
your fine poetical sense, not to let the flattery of insuffi- 
cient persons render you too easily contented with your- 
self, nor yet the hideous content of reporter-critics alienate 
you from the love of verse (which does not seem to thrive 
so naturally and spontaneously as art in your great city), 
nor lastly your tendency to vanilla-flavored adjectives and 
patchouli-scented participles stifle your strength in cloying 

It would have been cheaper to praise without reading 
than to prose after doing it. Still, I think you will take 
these few words kindly, for they are really complimentary, 
— much more so than the vague generalities with which 
I commonly clear my table of presentation-copies. There 
is so much that is sweet and true in your best lines that I 
want you to be fair to yourself and pinch off all the idle 
buds before the summer of your fruitage. These poems 
are most of them must, not wine. Happy man, whose 
voice time will be mellowing when he is cracking those of 
us your preterpluperfect contemporaries ! 
Very sincerely yours, 

O. W. Holmes. 


It was always oddly characteristic of Aldrich that, him- 
self the most fastidiously critical of poets, he was pecul- 
iarly amenable to intelligent and kindly criticism from 
others ; and the student of his later poetry may discover in 
each successive volume how faithfully he remembered the 
sound advice of the Autocrat, and how richly he projSted 
by it. There was much else besides to give him pleasure in 
the reception that his book met; perhaps best of all was 
this note from Hawthorne : — 

Concord, April 30, 1863. 
My dear Sir, — I thank you most sincerely for your 
volume of Poems, which I had not time to read, as true 
poetry ought to be read, when it first arrived, and therefore 
handed them over to my domestic circle, my wife, a daugh- 
ter of nineteen, and a boy of seventeen, who unanimously 
awarded them higher praise than ever I knew them to 
bestow on any other native poetry. They admire them 
greatly; and I myself have been reading some of them 
this morning and find them rich, sweet, and magnetic in 
such a degree that I am sorry not to have fresher sympa- 
thies in order to taste all the deUghts that every reader 
ought to draw from them. I was conscious, here and 
there, of a delicacy that I hardly dared to breathe upon. 
I cannot doubt of your acquiring a high name in Ameri- 
can literature, and believe me, I very earnestly wish it. 
Very sincerely yours, 

Nath. Hawthorne. 


But the theme of this biography is not the development 
of a literary faculty; it is the story of a man's life. "Al- 
drich" is not for us a row of books on a shelf. Let him be 
in our minds for the rest of this chapter as an alert, slender 
young man with clear, steady, gray-blue eyes, and crisp, 
golden hair. Let us imagine his witty, winsome manner, 
with its slight distinguishing touch of Parnassian dignity, 
and we shall be tolerably well acquainted with the "lovely 
fellow" of his friends' recollections. 

Throughout his youth and young manhood Aldrich had 
been a favorite with the appreciative sex that always takes 
kindly to poets. The first stanza of his discarded Herrick- 
ean verses, "The Girls," was veracious autobiography: — 

"Marian, May, and Maud 

Have not passed me by — 
Arched foot and mobile mouth 
And bronze-brown eye!" 

And there are not wanting records to show that he was 
regarded with a friendly eye by parents with marriageable 
daughters. Yet despite his affairs of young sentiment in 
New York, in Portsmouth, and in Boston, the love that 
makes or mars had not yet touched his life. Early in 1863, 
however, the true love came. In the late fall of 1862 he had 
met at Edwin Booth's rooms the woman who was to be his 
lifelong companion, and from that first — or at any rate 
from the second — meeting our poet seems to have lost 
interest forever in "Marian, May, and Maud." In Feb- 
ruary, 1863, he became engaged. 


The letters to Miss Woodman of this year are perhaps 
the finest he ever wrote. In their sincerity, courage, and 
humor they lay bare the very heart of the man. The privi- 
lege of reading them has helped the biographer to what- 
ever of vividness there is in his resurrection of that inner 
current of hopes and frustrations and attainments which 
is the very essence of personality. So intimate is their 
character that the pen pauses in the attempt to char- 
acterize them, and quotation is out of the question. Yet 
so illuminative are they of the young poet's heart that a 
sentence or two must be cuUed particularly to show a 
peculiar vein of melancholy that runs through them, — 
a melancholy more personal than that which belongs to 
old lions and lovers' lutes : — 

"It is a gray, raw day, just such a day when it is abso- 
lutely necessary that I should be made much of. . . . The 
unsympathetic sky bending coldly over my graveyard 
makes me sick. I think I could stand superhuman tender- 
ness just now. ... But I must even be content to sit alone 
in a small room where I have known such happy and 
wretched hours. ... I shall hate some day to leave this 
same cozy room. Here I have dreamed and written for 
eight years. The carpet (Haroun Aldrich's), the curtains, 
and the very figures on the wall-paper seem a part of my 
literary life." 

There were numerous strands in the woof of Aldrich's 
life in these years to give rise to hours of melancholy. 
His editorial work on the ** Illustrated News" was monoto- 


nous and unceasing, and he even had to turn himself 
to such uncongenial tasks as "going out to write up the 
Russian Ball." But at the end of 1863 something hap- 
pened to the "News," and Aldrich was again a free 
lance, a little more worried about it than he would have 
been before his engagement, yet still confident in his heart, 
as he wrote Miss Woodman, that "many and precious 
things" were in store for him. 

In the latter months of 1863 Aldrich was engaged in 
preparation for the launching of another poetic argosy. 
He had already written several longer poems in dramatic 
form, but for some years he had wished to try a long- 
breathed narrative in blank verse, and had been looking 
about for a subject that would at once give an opportunity 
for the employment of the Oriental imagery that he took 
delight in, and afford scope for the epical treatment of an 
ample episode. Finally, taking a hint perhaps from Tenny- 
son, OT perhaps from Willis, he turned to scriptural themes, 
and, whether with any knowledge of the fine old English 
poem of that name or not, selected for his purpose the 
striking story of Judith. For many months the poem grew 
and was the magnetic centre of his thought. In his corre- 
spondence with Miss Woodman there are many allusions 
to it. 

" Don't forget to hand me the MS. of * Judith' to-morrow 
night," he writes in one letter; "I want to go over it care- 
fully and finish it to the utmost. The alterations you sug- 
gested are admirable. I wish you would read the poem 


just once with a view only to find faults. See if there are 
not any passages where the idea is not worked out sharply. 
Obscurity, I think, is a kind of stupidity, and I seek to 
avoid it always." And again a little later, — "I would 
like to know what is to be done with the poem. Carleton's 
would not publish it because it was not long enough. The 
'Atlantic' refused it because it was too long, and now I 
have submitted it to the editor of a new literary journal 
(to be called 'The Round Table'), who will probably 
fall asleep over it. . . . Judith has fallen back in good 
order, like the army of the Lord on the Rappahannock." 
In the event, however, the poem was printed, early in 
1864, in "The Round Table," with the readers of which 

it found great favor. " S says the praise is as absurd 

as the poem," wrote Aldrich. "Poor S ! I mean to 

drive him wild by writing the finest poems God will let 
me." How hopefully he set about it may be seen in this 
letter to Bayard Taylor : — 

May 8, 1864. 

My dear Bayard, — For the past few weeks I have 
been nursing my "I" like an irreclaimable old egotist — 
shut out from books, pen, paper, and the "meaner beauties 
of the night." What was all in my eye is now entirely out 
of it, and I celebrate the occasion ("I celebrate myself," 
like Walt Whitman) by sprinkling some ink in your direc- 
tion. I have been so much alone recently that I can speak 
only of No i, which I shall do kindly, thereby setting a 
right pious example to all Christian people. If you are a 


Knight of the Round Table, you have seen "Judith" in 
type. I have, as you may have noticed, followed with ad- 
vantage some ten or twelve of your suggestions. I intend 
to make other alterations before putting the poem into 
book form. I trust that a second reading of the verses has 
not made you reverse your good opinion of them. I have 
just completed another poem of about two hundred and 
fifty lines, entitled "Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book." It is 
to be published in the "Atlantic" for June or July. It is a 
picturesque monkish story, told in an off-hand colloquial 
way, and is so different from anything I have attempted 
that I am no fit judge of its quality. I like the thing now — 
but then my last child always seems the best-shaped whelp. 
During the past two years I have cut adrift from the in- 
fluence of my favorite gods. Tennyson & Co. are good 
corks with which to learn to swim ; but for a long stretch, a 
man must depend wholly upon himself — the less of any- 
body else he carries with him the farther he will go if he has 
any muscle. How comes on "The Picture of St. John"? 
The passages you read to me, and the story they indicated, 
or, rather, the manner of the story, lead me to think it will 
be your finest poem. One of the highest rewards of an 
artist is the conviction, in his own soul, of increasing 
power. For a man to be what he was is damnable. . . . 
Your true friend, Tom. 

The year 1864 passed pleasantly for Aldrich, happy in 
his love and poetic labor. Part of the summer was spent in 


Portsmouth, and there Miss Woodman likewise came on 
a visit. How pleasant that was no one can realize who 
has not guided a sympathetic sweetheart through the 
Happy Hunting Grounds of his boyhood. In the autumn 
they were back again in New York, going out much to- 
gether, and arranging and rearranging golden plans for 
the future. Aldrich was even thinking of buying land at 
Bay Ridge and building a " love-in-a-cottage residence" 
there, though owing to the present impracticability of the 
plan, the residence was already christened "Breakheart 

In this and the following year Aldrich's friendship with 
Booth, who was then at the height of his success at his 
Winter Garden Theatre, was constantly deepening. He 
likewise saw much of the artistic circle that gathered in 
the old Studio Building on Tenth Street. His letters of this 
time contain many vivid pen-miniatures of the men he 
is meeting, suggesting, perhaps, that the picture- making 
talk of the studios was in a minor way not unserviceable 
to his verse and prose. Take for a single example this 
memorable vignette of George Augustus Sala. "Straight 
black hair, a round red face, and an imp of a nose, — just 
like a prize strawberry." 

As the year 1865 went on his life became more and 
more marked by the assurance of happiness. The only 
cloud came through his love and friendship for Edwin 
Booth, who, after the assassination of Lincoln by his bro- 
ther John, feeling that the name of Booth must be forever 

^::52l^^*^^- >^V>-t.— 



^^^- /^ .c^^cw: <7 

^^ P^ ^^^ ^^ /CiU' 2^^ 



the synonym of infamy, shut himself moodily within his 
house. There for weeks and months he lived, the melan- 
choly target for all the cruel notes and letters that came 
daily to his door. The only mitigations of his mood came 
through the friendly ministrations of Launt Thompson 
and Aldrich, who shared his solitude both day and night. 
The record of the year, with this exception, is a record of 
increasing prosperity and joy. Part of the summer was 
spent in a visit to some friends at their home on Owasco 
Lake. A letter written from there to Taylor contains a 
quaint and charming picture of a Central New York Ar- 
cadia in the Consulship of Andrew Johnson : — 

Springside, Aug. 20, 1865. 
My dear Bayard, — Your letter reached me just in 
time not to be re-mailed to Boston. I take my departure 
for that place to-morrow morning. It was my intention to 
remain in these lovely regions one week; but my friends 
would not hear of so short a stay. I have made five starts 
for home, but each time a picnic on " The Point," an ex- 
cursion on the Owasco, or a pilgrimage to Cayuga Lake, 
was purposely proposed to detain me. But my trunk is 
packed, and determination (to go) is the prevailing ex- 
pression of my countenance. I fancy that I have had the 
cream of my summer's milk. To live in an old rambling 
cocked-hat mansion with one's betrothed : — to have 
enough money and plenty of refined people, a choice 
library of ten thousand books, sunsets, moon-rises, horses, 


boats, and newly-laid eggs — what could be pleasanter ? 
I thought to write some poems here, but I have been too 
happy in the flesh. I have to be a trifle melancholy — to 
escape from something — to write decent verses. I wanted 
to escape from nothing here — especially the library. On 
the other side of the lake — a joyous row is it across — is 
a place called "Willowbrook." A gracious little brook 
winds in and out among groves of willows, singing all day 
and all night long to one of the quaintest old houses in the 
world. It belongs to one Mr. Martin. The building con- 
sisted originally of four rooms : additions have been made 
from year to year until now there are thirty. There is no 
attempt at architecture in the thing, the extensions have 
been stuck on just where they were most wanted and 
handiest. The result, outside, would set a lover of the 
grotesque quite wild with pleasure: inside, the narrow 
by-ways and odd nooks leading into each other, make me 
think of midnight murders and Mrs. Radcliffe. In this 
shapeless old pile is a collection of books that would make 
your eyes stare — Shelf after shelf of rare old black-letter 
volumes, annotated and autographed by famous hands — 
original editions of almost everything that is rare. I should 
like to be confined there with you for two weeks on bread 
and water rations. We 'd come out mere souls. I suppose 
I cannot tempt you to envy me my content, since your own 
summer has been so pleasant. I would like to add your 
visit to Whittier to my list of congenial doings. I don't 
know him at all, but I think he must be a genuine fine 


spirit. I would also like to confiscate your delight in writ- 
ing a long poem. Men who cannot write verse are ignorant 
of the highest earthly enjoyment — the least earthy, I 
mean. . . . Your friend, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

In the autumn of 1865 three events occurred which 
definitely mark that year as the true annus mirahilis of our 
poet's life : his collected poems were published in the au- 
thentic Ticknor & Fields Blue and Gold Series ; he was 
established in a singularly pleasant editorial chair ; and he 
was married. 

Of the 1865 volume more than half — and all that he had 
written since 1863 — has gone into the canon of his works, 
and there is little need to analyze it. All that need be said 
of it here was said by Dr. Holmes in another of those ad- 
mirable letters, — this one written November 13, 1865 : — 

"I have been much struck," Holmes wrote, "with the 
delicate grace of your descriptions and the sandal-wood 
aroma (if I may use so bold a figure) that perfumes all 
the passages which breathe of the Orient. I began with 
' Judith,' whose story you have told very effectively, — I 
read 'Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book' over again with 
renewed pleasure, I passed by 'Gamaut Hall,' as I re- 
member it very vividly, and I refreshed myself with the 
sweet and touching story of * Babie Bell.' Besides these, I 
read several of the new poems with pleasure. 

"Now tell me how often do you do as much for a new 


book of poems sent you? And how often does it happen 
that you can mention so many as having given you delight 
to read ? I think some of the hints I once gave you were 
not ill-judged — your danger is of course on the sensuous 
side of the intellect, — you see what I mean — the semi- 
voluptuous excess of color and odor, such as you remem- 
ber in Keats's * Endymion,' — a very different thing 
from vulgar sensuousness. But your cabinet pictures are 
really so carefully drawn and so cunningly tinted that I 
am disposed to cease from criticism and trust your Muse 
to finish them according to her own sweet will." 

Four days later Aldrich received another letter which 
was momentous in his life. It lies before me now as I write, 
a yellowing bit of paper with some black marks on it, a 
queer faded thing to have caused so much joyful excite- 
ment forty years ago : — 

Dear Aldrich, — We have decided to do " Every 
Saturday," and that T. B. A. is the man to edit it. Please 
meet me on Sunday at the St. Denis at as early an hour as 
convenient, — say nine o'clock, — and we will decide upon 
details. Yours truly, 

J. R. Osgood. 

The "details" were arranged to the entire satisfaction 
of both parties, and it was decided that the paper should 
make its bow in Boston on the first of January, 1866. At 
the time, however, it was not precisely the conduct of the 
paper that was first in Aldrich's thoughts. At last mar- 


riage was made possible for him ! There was no delay, or 
elaborate preparation. He was married to Miss Woodman 
in New York on November 28, 1865. Bayard Taylor wrote 
a sonnet for the occasion — one of his best. 

To T. B. A. AND L. W. 

Sad Autumn, drop thy weedy crown forlorn, 

Put off thy cloak of cloud, thy scarf of mist, 

And dress in gauzy gold and amethyst 
A day benign, of sunniest influence bom, 
As may befit a Poet's marriage-morn! 

Give buds another dream, another tryst 

To loving hearts, and print on lips unkissed 
Betrothal-kisses, laughing Spring to scorn ! 

Yet, if unfriendly thou, with sullen skies. 
Bleak rains, or moaning winds, dost menace wrong, 

Here art thou foiled : a bridal sun shall rise. 
And bridal emblems unto these belong: 

Round her the sunshine of her beauty lies. 
And breathes round him the spring-time of his song! 

Never, perhaps, was happier marriage made by poet. 
On November 27, 1905, Aldrich wrote to one of his closest 
friends : "To-morrow Lilian and I shall have been married 
forty years ! Forty happy years with only one great sor- 
row. How many married pairs in this sad world can say 
as much ?" In the story of those forty happy years, the bril- 
liant achievements in prose and verse, the secure laurels 
were for him but the tinsel trappings of mortality. His real 
and. vital life was always at his hearthside; his deepest joy 
was in the daily companionship of her to whom he wrote 
"Forever and a Day.'' 




THOUGH I am not genuine Boston," Aldrich liked to 
say in later years, "I am Boston-plated." Asa matter 
of fact there was an even deeper tincture of Boston in him 
than would be suggested by his own metaphor. He was no 
sooner fairly settled in the friendly, lettered, somewhat 
leisurely circle that awaited him there than he felt that his 
life had found its appointed channel. Though he always 
liked to joke about the Brahmin caste, he caught, uncon- 
sciously perhaps, something of its dignity, and as time 
went on he cared less and less to revisit, even in memory, 
the glimpses of the Bohemian moon. 

The young couple took lodgings in an admirable board- 
ing house in Hancock Street, on the very summit of that 
acropolitan portion of Boston known as Beacon Hill. This 
classic eminence, whether one views its fine definite round- 
ness on the map, or from across the Common beholds its 
calm acclivity rising against the clear New England sky, 
stands to the imaginative mind the microcosm of all that is 
mellowest and best in the historic city. Throughout the 
rest of his life Aldrich's urban residence was always on its 



Among the other residents in the Hancock Street house 
were two or three young students of medicine, — among 
them Mr. William James, — an editor, a general, two re- 
tired naval officers, and Mr. James M. Bugbee, secretary 
to Mayor Lincoln, who was to become a lifelong friend. 
The group was congenial, and from the first the daily din- 
ner partook of the nature of a festivity. It was not long 
before the Aldriches found themselves sharing the com- 
munities of friendship with the elder circle. Fields and his 
poet- wife took them under a friendly wing, and it was in 
their long drawing-room in Charles Street, a rich treasury 
of lettered memories, whose windows now look somewhat 
sadly out upon the river and the sunset, that they first came 
to terms of intimacy with Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, and 
Emerson. Our poet's charming personal presence and 
ready wit soon made him a favorite with the older men, and 
the acquaintance thus begun speedily ripened into affec- 
tionate friendship. 

Five minutes walk from Hancock Street, in the building 
at 124 Tremont Street, at the corner of Hamilton Place, 
overlooking the Common, were the offices of Ticknor & 
Fields, and there in a commodious room, with bookshelves 
and an open fire, Aldrich applied himself to the editing of 
" Every Saturday," an eclectic weekly supposed to carry the 
best of foreign periodical literature. In the adjoining room 
Fields and his new assistant, Mr. W. D. Howells, directed 
the destinies of the "Atlantic." In his ''Literary Friends 
and Acquaintance " Mr. Howells has written of this their 


first meeting, with that vivid felicity of his that clamors for 
quotation : — 

"The publishing house which so long embodied New 
England literature was already attempting enterprises out 
of the line of its traditions, and one of these had brought 
Mr. T. B. Aldrich from New York a few weeks before I 
arrived upon the scene in that dramatic quality which I 
think never impressed any one but Mr. Bowles. Mr. 
Aldrich was the editor of 'Every Saturday' when I came 
to be assistant editor of the 'Atlantic Monthly.' We were 
of nearly the same age, but he had a distinct and distin- 
guished priority of reputation, insomuch that in my Western 
remoteness I had always ranged him with such elders and 
betters of mine as Holmes and Lowell, and never imagined 
him the blond, slight youth I found him, with every im- 
aginable charm of contemporaneity. ... 

"When I had the fortune to meet him first, I suppose 
that in the employ of the kindly house we were both so eager 
to serve, our dignities were about the same; for if the 
'Atlantic Monthly' was a somewhat prouder affair than 
an eclectic weekly like 'Every Saturday,' he was supreme 
in his place, and I was subordinate in mine. The house was 
careful, in the attitude of its senior partner, not to distin- 
guish between us, and we were not slow to perceive the tact 
used in managing us ; we had our own joke of it ; we com- 
pared notes to find whether we were equally used in this 
thing or that ; and we promptly shared the fun of our dis- 
covery with Fields himself." 


One of the most pleasurable experiences of the docu- 
mentary biographer is the way in which now and again an 
old letter will give a ghostly substantiation alike of printed 
record and imagined milieu. This passage from a letter to 
Taylor, written March 26, 1866, sheds a bright and pleas- 
ant light on the beginnings of Aldrich's friendship with 
Mr. Howells and upon his own delight in his situation : — 

" You are right touching Howells. He is a thoughtful, 
able, good fellow, and I am glad the firm * imported ' 
him. We are of course thrown much together, and pro- 
mise to become the warmest of friends. You speak of the 
great city drawing us atoms into its literary vortex. 
I 'm a-Tom that does n't want to come back just at 
present. I miss my few dear friends in New York — but 
that is all. There is a finer intellectual atmosphere here 
than in our city. It is true, a poor literary man could not 
earn his salt, or more than that, out of pure literary labor in 
Boston : but then he could n't do it in New York, unless he 
turned journalist. The people of Boston are full-blooded 
readers^ appreciative, trained. The humblest man of letters 
has a position here which he does n't have in New York. 
To be known as an able writer is to have the choicest 
society opened to you. Just as an officer in the Navy (pro- 
viding he is a gentleman) is the social equal of anybody — 
so a knight of the quill here is supposed necessarily to be a 
gentleman. In New York — he's a Bohemian ! outside of 
his personal friends he has no standing. I am speaking of a 
young fellow like myself who has n't kicked up all the dust 


he intends to. The luckiest day of my professional life was 
when I came to Boston to stay. My studies and associations 
are fitting me for higher ends than I ever before cared to 
struggle for. ..." 

In the spring of 1866 Aldrich received his first important 
recognition from abroad. In the ''Athenaeum " for March 3 
appeared an appreciative, even enthusiastic, notice of the 
more recent Blue and Gold collection. He was compared, 
not altogether to his disadvantage, with Longfellow, and 
described as '* an addition to that small band of American 
poets that is so slowly reinforced." Fired by the well- 
merited praise, Aldrich abandoned the lecture upon ''The 
Wives of Literary Men" and the play for Edwin Booth, 
upon which he had been spending his spare time, and wrote 
*'Miantowona," perhaps his only mature piece of pure 
Longfellowesque. It was printed in the "Atlantic" in the 
summer of 1866, and its author received many friendly 
compliments, though it seems not altogether to have 
pleased some of the critics who then held sway, as appears 
in this characteristic letter to Bayard Taylor : — 

Boston, Oct. 9, 1866. 
My dear Bayard, — ... I am especially glad to have 
you like the music of " Miantowona," for the dactylic flow 
of the poem has greatly annoyed the large and unaccus- 
tomed ears of those superior beings who sit in awful judg- 
ment over us, and they have abused me roundly. If one 
were insane enough to look to Pat O'Halfin, or whatever his 



name is, for encouragement, the following would be hardly 
satisfactory: "A very, very poor poem by Aldrich, — what 
could have induced him to publish such watery nonsense 

as ^Miantowona'?" or this from the noble of the 

** Leader" : I can't find the paper, but take my word for 
it, he talks to me as if I wore his livery. What sort of 
criticism is this, which one could reverse by giving the 
fellows a mug of lager beer — the more independent intel- 
lects would require the addition of a potato-salad ? Seri- 
ously, these inexpensive people do not disturb so much as 
an eyelash of me. But I tell you what does make me writhe 
— when I compare my work with my conceptions, and my 
conceptions with those of the Masters — then I catch 
it! . . . 

Booth has been with us these six weeks, acting won- 
derfully. We shall miss him sadly. He is a great actor. 
We love the boy. I like to mix his gloom with my sun- 
shine. . . . 

Yours heartily, Tom. 

Throughout the summer of 1866 Aldrich was busy as 
a bee, "busier," he would say, "than a T. B. likes to be," 
with his editorial labors. Some hint of the nature of his 
assiduities is contained in a letter to Mrs. Fields declining 
an invitation to visit at Manchester : — 

"It is that terrible enfant Osgood who has done this 
thing. He hath devised, constructed, and put into practice 
an idea so full of shrewdness that it is almost painful to 


contemplate so much disingenuousness backed by such 
tender years. The idea is this : To have sixteen impartial 
notices (written by me!) of E. S. each week, for those 
editors who have not the time or the skill to direct the atten- 
tion of the pubUc to our little journal. Now, how to say the 
same thing sixteen different ways, week after week, is a 
problem which I am obliged to solve every Monday and 
Tuesday, — days which I formerly gave to lotus-eating, 
days which I ought to pass at Manchester." 

In the autumn of the year a small edition of twenty copies 
of a revised version of "P^re Antoine's Date-Palm^' was 
privately printed and distributed by the author among his 
friends. Of the many interesting letters that he received 
in return, the most interesting, perhaps, is this fine full- 
flavored note from Mrs. Hawthorne : — 

October 28, 1866. 

My dear Mr. Aldrich, — Before I do anything else at 
all, I must speak to you of "P^re Antoine's Date-Palm." 
Professor Holmes once wrote to me, **It is always a good 
and kindly thing to mention when an author has given you 
pleasure." It would be the blackest ingratitude for me not 
to tell you the rare and exquisite delight I have experienced 
in reading this felicity of literature. I do not believe that 
in the English language there is anything more delicate, 
tender, arch, and spherical in rounded beauty. It is as 
ethereal as a snowflake, and as radiant as those rosy blos- 
soms of the tropical plant which resemble snowflakes in 
form, as they tremble upon their cobwebby fibres and seem 


to the eye falling through the air. One so seldom finds such 
sobriety and purity of composition. I want more and more 
forever of just such gems of art. I hope you are an inex- 
haustible fountain or mine of such jewels. I quite lost my 
sense of the proprieties of place when I read this Legend 
and exclaimed aloud in the Saloon of the Station, " Oh, how 
perfect, how beautiful ! " I suppose the few women sitting 
round thought I was gently insane. I do not wonder at 
Mr. Hawthorne's demanding the rest after he had read a 
portion. I do not wonder that some one had a sense of 
poetical justice keen enough to print it in this fair generous 
style. If I abounded in means, I would bind it in purple 
velvet edged with diamonds and gild the leaves with solid 
gold. I meant to be moderate in my acknowledgments, but 
it is hard to repress my natural ardor when you provoke me 
so. Mr. Hawthorne endeavored to discipline my style of 
expression into his own statuesque and immaculate beauty ; 
but the scarlet, blue, and gold of the painter will, after all, 
flame and glow on great occasions over the white marble 
purity. I took this tiny sheet so as not to multiply words, 
but really, dear Mr. Aldrich, I thank Heaven for gifting 
you with this most ethereal delicacy of genius, for all our 
sakes. Very truly yours, 

Sophia Hawthorne. 

Despite the pleasantness of the life at 55 Hancock 
Street, the Aldriches were from the first looking about for a 
still more homelike shelter. Finally, in December, 1866, 


Aldrich purchased the quaint little house at 84 Pinckney 
Street, two thirds of the way down the hill towards the 
bay, where the lazy Charles rests after its circuitous course 
through the Cambridge marshes, and gave it to Mrs. Al- 
drich for his remembrance on the second Christmas of their 
life together. They decorated and furnished it at their lei- 
sure during the winter, and settled there in the spring of 

Of the characteristic charm of this their first home there 
are many records. The compact little house, known to their 
friends as "Mrs. Aldrich's work-box," soon became cele- 
brated as the happy home of a happy poet. Not the least 
interesting feature of it to the many callers was "Little 
Miss," the seven-year-old daughter of the cook, who in a 
long brown dress and white apron performed the office of 
handmaiden at door and table. A vivid picture of "Little 
Miss" and the household that she primly served is con- 
tained in a letter written by a visitor in the house at the 
Aldriches' first Thanksgiving there. In its pleasant gos- 
sipy flow it is like a living voice from the mists of forty 
years ago. The climax of the story comes in these para- 
graphs : — 

". . . I went over for Julia to come and dine, but she 
had to go as usual to her grandmother's. However, they 
came and looked at the table, and then over the house, 
which looked like an abode for fairies in its fresh flowers 
and fall leaves, silver, and soft coal fires. 

"We saw holy Dr. Bartol pass, and opening the window 


brought him in, all dripping as he was, to see how lovely a 
Thanksgiving dining-room was prepared. He kissed us all 
at parting, and as soon as he and the girls had left Mr. 
Fields drove up, and in a moment said, * I am going for 
Dickens ; he must see this ! ' So off he went, and in a few 
moments returned with the lion of the season, dressed for a 
dinner given to him at Mr. Longfellow's. We went all over 
the house, and Mr. Dickens said, * I want to see Lizzie ; I 

know all about her.' So L came down, and gave the 

mite a decanter of wine and some preserved fruit, which she 
brought up to the library, and in her old way lisped out to 
him, * would he plethe to take some wine and fruit ? ' Her 
manner made him shout. He has since declared himself 
delighted with all the people in the house, and everything 
about it." 

It was in the dining-room of this same little house that 
Longfellow first conceived "The Hanging of the Crane." 
The story has been told by Aldrich himself and is printed 
in the notes to the Cambridge edition of Longfellow's 
Poems : — 

*'One morning in the spring of 1867 Mr. Longfellow 
came to the little home in Pinckney Street, where we had 
set up housekeeping in the light of our honeymoon. As we 
lingered a moment at the dining-room door, Mr. Longfel- 
low turning to me said, 'Ah, Mr. Aldrich, your small round 
table will not always be closed. By and by you will find 
new young faces clustering about it ; as years go on, leaf 
after leaf will be added until the time comes when the 


young guests will take flight, one by one, to b"ild nests of 
their own elsewhere. Gradually the long table will shrink 
to a circle again, leaving two old people sitting there alone 
together. This is the story of life, the sweet and pathetic 
poem of the fireside. Make an idyl of it. I give the idea to 
you.' Several months afterward I received a note from 
Mr. Longfellow in which he expressed a desire to use this 
motif in case I had done nothing in the matter. The theme 
was one peculiarly adapted to his sympathetic handling, 
and out of it grew 'The Hanging of the Crane.' " 

Aldrich's own happiness in his home, and his character- 
istic impulses of friendly hospitality, are expressed in the 
following letter to Mr. Stedman, written just after the 
Thanksgiving festivity described above : — 

My dear Stedman, — You were very good to send me 
the handsome book. I think there is rare musical music in 
the verses you mentioned, and several of the little poems in 
nutshells, the sonnets, have pleased me greatly. It must be 
pleasant for you to know for ''truly, truly," as children say, 
that you are indebted to your mother for those mysterious 
impulses which have made you a Poet. . . . 

When you come to Boston, if you put up at the Parker 
House while the Aldrich House is in existence, it will be 
because you are no friend of the proprietor of the latter 
hotel. I want you to see what an odd little cocked-hat home 
I have, what a pleasant life I lead in it, and what an aston- 
ishing housekeeper presides over my menage. I would 



extend the invitation to Laura, but my spare bed is in the 
single number. 

Your mention of Bayard makes me ashamed of myself. 
I don't believe that two days have passed since he went 
away without my having a warm thought about the dear 
fellow. He's had a place at my chimney corner ever since 
we lighted the first fire in our cozy house. And yet I've not 
written him a line ! Indeed, I have had no time to write out 
even the verses that raise their voices in my brain, and 
refuse to be comforted — with anything but printer's ink, 
the miserable brats! ... 

Your friend, Tom. 

The summer of 1868 was spent as usual at Portsmouth, 
and throughout it Aldrich was giving all his spare moments 
to the writing of "The Story of a Bad Boy." He returned 
to Pinckney Street about the middle of September, and 
there on the evening of the sixteenth wrote the last words of 
the chronicle of Tom Bailey. On the seventeenth occurred 
one of the great happinesses of his life. A month before he 
had received from Mr. Howells a note, saying, "I have a 
fine boy"; on the eighteenth of September Aldrich re- 
plied : — 

My dear Howells, — I have TWO fine boys, born yes- 
terday morning ! Everything seems to be well with my wife 
and with the little fellows, God bless the three of them ! 
and I am exceedingly happy. 

Your friend, T. B. Aldrich. 


Henceforward we shall find these twin boys — Charles, 
named for his great uncle Frost, and Talbot, named for the 
family physician, who had become an intimate friend — 
playing major roles in the sunny story of Aldrich's life. 
They are, too, destined to put in a frequent and engaging 
appearance in the correspondence: witness this letter to 
Lowell, written when they were some two months old : — 

Boston, Dec. 4, 1868. 

My dear Mr. Lowell, — I think you must have had a 
benevolent suspicion that a copy of your book from your 
own hand would give me no ordinary pleasure. At all 
events it was very kind of you to send me the volume. I 
shall treasure it carefully for my boys, who are not the fel- 
lows I take them to be if they dispose of it, even at the 
highest cash price, to that tasteful bibliophile — born last 
month perhaps — who will be going round in the year 1930, 
let us say, buying up your autograph copies. I sit here, 
chuckling to think how the perplexed collector will stare at 
my name on the fly-leaf and wonder who the deuce I was to 
receive such coin from the mint itself. Then, may be, the 
name on the fly-leaf will take off its hat, so to speak, and 
address the startled bibliophile as follows : — 

"If you please, sir, I am nobody in particular, therefore 
I am the more proud at being found here, for I think that 
this volume contains the richest and most varied music of 
our time. To change the metaphor, we have no such monu- 
ment, bronze or marble, over our Dead as the * Commemo- 


ration Ode.' You will wonder that the hand which shaped 
columns so noble and severe could at the same time cut 
such delicate cameos as * The First Snow-Fall,' * The Night- 
ingale in the Study,' and 'The Fountain of Youth.' You 
well may wonder. Others have done so before you. No, 
sir ; this copy of * Under the Willows ' is not for sale. It is to 
be kept in the family ; but I should be delighted to lend you 
the volume, if you will leave a handsome deposit with the 
twins, here. An old bookmonger like you is not to be trusted 
with ' a first edition.' Is it true that Messrs. What-d'you- 
call-'em are printing a ninety-seventh edition from this 
text . . . ?" 

This is what I would say, in 1930, to the lover of your 
autograph. If I were to attempt to tell you how much I 
admire these poems, I should make awkward work of it, 
lacking that coolness which enables a man to praise another 
to his face. But I am not shut out from thanking you for 
remembering me, and I do thank you very heartily. 
Faithfully yours, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

This pleasant letter was to bring a rich reward. Three 
weeks later, at Christmas-time, came a large paper copy 
of "The Biglow Papers," second series — one of twelve 
copies printed, — inscribed, "To the other twin with the 
best wishes of Hosea Biglow." 

In the early months of 1869 "The Story of a Bad Boy" 
was issued serially in "Our Young Folks," a juvenile 


magazine ably edited by Mr. J. T. Trowbridge and pub- 
lished by Fields, Osgood & Co., as the firm had then 
become. So great was its success in the periodical that 
several thousand subscribers were promptly added to the 
circulation, and after its publication in book form in the 
autumn of 1869 (dated 1870), it speedily ran through some 
eleven editions, a notable record for a book of its kind in 
those days. In the forty years that have gone by since then, 
it has had a constant yearly sale that would be regarded as 
excellent for a new book. Even to-day the lists of books 
most in demand at the great city libraries rarely fail to con- 
tain "The Story of a Bad Boy." It has become, in short, 
judged by the most tangible and valid of possible tests, a 
** classic." 

The book marked an epoch in the history of juvenile 
literature. Hitherto, in America at least, the heroes of boys' 
books had been either impossible little prigs, conceived by 
elderly ones as improving examples for the young, or youth- 
ful Natty Bumpos enjoying adventures passing quite 
beyond the farthest bounds of credibility. Aldrich set him- 
self to tell the story of a natural, actual boy engaged in the 
natural, actual escapades of boyhood. Never perhaps has 
a boy's story combined so keen a zest in the imaginative 
reconstruction of a boy's world with such neat and telling 
literary workmanship. Certainly not even in " Tom Brown 
at Rugby" is there a more sweet, wholesome, and sure- 
footed record of the humor and sentiment of a boy's life. 
It has always found equal favor with old and young, and 

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thousands of ripe and mature readers have, like Longfel- 
low, on his first acquaintance with it, ''devoured this 
tender book with the greatest relish." 

It was in the years between 1868 and 1873 that Aldrich 
first attained to a secure position as one of the notable prose 
writers of the day. It is true that within this period he wrote 
and printed in the "Atlantic" several of his most charac- 
teristic poems, among them "The Flight of the Goddess," 
"Lost Art," " Destiny," "An Untimely Thought," the son- 
net to Henry Howard Brownell, and the lines "On an 
Intaglio Head of Minerva"; yet this handful of poems 
comprises almost the sum of his poetic work for five years, 
and it seemed for a time as if the success of " The Story of 
a Bad Boy" and the pleasure he had found in writing it, 
might eventually lure him far from the Muse's bower in the 
paths of prose. 

Of his stories, "A Struggle for Life" was printed in the 
"Atlantic" in 1867, and "Quite So" in 1872. In April of 
the latter year he wrote to Taylor : " You are right touching 
* Quite So.' The story is the second chunk of metal from 
my new mine (not a lead mine, I hope). ... I intend to 
become a 'subtle humorist' while you are abroad." "A 
subtle humorist" he speedily became. "A Rivermouth 
Romance" was printed in the "Atlantic " in 1872, and early 
in 1873 appeared his short-story masterpiece, incompara- 
ble " Marjorie Daw." Immediately after the publication of 
this story in the "Atlantic" it was translated into several 
foreign tongues, and was printed, among other places, in 


the "Revue des Deux Mondes." Thus in 1873 Aldrich 
awoke, as it were, to find himself in the position, some- 
what surprising for a lyric poet, of an international hu- 

But we have been treading rather too briskly on Time's 
heels, and must go back a little and pick up the thread of 
our author's personal life. After the birth of the twins the 
little house on Pinckney Street had been found somewhat 
incommodious, and early in 1870 Aldrich had bought a 
larger house on Charles Street, just across the way from the 
houses of Fields and Holmes. In May, 1870, he wrote to 
Mr. Howells about it : — 

"When you come to Boston again, bring an extra hour 
with you, so you can go over my new house. I have bought 
a young Palace on Charles Street — cellar frescoed, coal- 
bin inlaid with mother-of-pearl and the skulls of tax- 
collectors, and joyous birds, in gilded cages, in every room, 
warbling promissory notes to the tune of seven per-cent! 
Come and see it." 

In this "young palace" the Aldriches lived happily for 
two years, years rich in broadening and deepening friend- 
ship. Among the new friends of this period was Mark 
Twain. The story of the whimsical origins of this life- 
long intimacy is told in an entertaining series of letters, 
which, through the kindness of Mr. Clemens, may be 
printed here : — 



Samuel L, Clemens to T. B. Aldrich 

Buffalo, Jan. 15, [1871]. 

To THE Editor of Every Saturday, — You stated, in 
a recent issue, that I have written "a feeble imitation of 
Bret Harte's Heathen Chinee," in the shape of certain 
rhymes about a euchre game that was turned into poker 
and a victim betrayed into betting his all on three aces 
when there was a "flush'' out against him. Will you 
please correct your mis-statement, inasmuch as I did not 
write the rhymes referred to, nor have anything whatever 
to do with suggesting, inspiring, or producing them? 
They were the work of a writer who has for years signed 
himself "Hy. Slocum." I have had several applications 
from responsible publishing houses to furnish a volume of 
poems after the style of the "Truthful James" rhymes. 
I burned the letters without answering them, for I am not 
in the imitation business. 

Yours truly, Mark Twain. 


Samuel Z. Clemens to T, B. Aldrich 

Buffalo, Jan. 22. 

Dear Sir, — Please do not publish the note I sent you 

the other day about "Hy. Slocum's" plagiarism entitled 

"Three Aces" . . . it is not important enough for such 

a long paragraph. Webb writes me that he has put in a 


paragraph about it, too — and I have requested him to 
suppress it. If you would simply state, in a line and 
a half under "Literary Notes," that you mistook one 
*^ Hy. Slocum " (no, it was one "Carl Byng," I perceive) 
"Carl Byng" for Mark Twain, and that it was the former 
who wrote the plagiarism entitled "Three Aces," I think 
that would do a fair justice without any unseemly display. 
But it is hard to be accused of plagiarism — a crime I 
never have committed in my life. 

Yours truly, Mark Twain. 

I have just crossed Mr. Carl Byng and Mr. Hy. Slocum 
both off the " Express's " list of contributors (for their own 
GOOD — for everything they write is straightway saddled 
onto me). 


T. B. Aldrich to Samuel L. Clemens 

Jan. 25, 1871. 

My dear Sir, — It is too late to attempt to prevent me 
doing you justice ! About 42,000 copies of your note, with 
my apology nobly appended, are now printed, and we hope 
to have the rest of the edition ofif the press by to-morrow 
night. In the next No. of E. S. I will withdraw my apology, 
if you say so ! Yours truly, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

Inclosed was a clipping from "Every Saturday," 
headed: "Mark Twain says he didn't do it." Then 


follows the first letter of this series, and the paragraph 
concludes with the following "apology ":— 

"The poem entitled 'The Three Aces,' with Mark 
Twain's signature attached as author, appeared in several 
of bur New York exchanges. That was our only authority 
for attributing the verses to him. We are very glad that 
he did not write them, for the rhymes lack that freshness 
and brilliancy which Mark Twain has taught us to expect 
in his writings." 


Samuel L. Clemens to T. B, Aldrich , , 

472 Delaware: St., 
Buffalo, Jan. 27. 

Dear Mr. Aldrich, — No indeed, don't take back the : 
apology ! Hang it, I don't want to abuse a man's civility; 
merely because he gives me the chance. 

I hear a good deal about doing things on the "spur 
of the moment"—/ invariably regret the things I do 
on the spur of the moment. That disclaimer of mine was a 
case in point. I am ashamed every time I think of my 
bursting out before an unconcerned public with that bom- 
bastic pow-wow about burning publishers' letters and all 
that sort of imbecility, and about my not being an imi- 
tator, etc. Who would find out that I am a natural fool if 
I kept always cool and never let nature come to the sur- 
face? Nobody. „ , , 

But I did hate to be accused of plagiarizing Bret Harte, 


who trimmed and trained and schooled me patiently until 
he changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse gro- 
tesquenesses to a writer of paragraphs and chapters that 
have found a certain favor in the eyes of even some of the 
very decentest people in the land . . . and this grateful 
remembrance of mine ought to be worth its face, seeing 
that Bret broke our long friendship a year ago without 
any cause or provocation that I am aware of. 

Well it is funny, the reminiscences that glare out from 
murky corners of one^s memory, now and then, without 
warning. Just at this moment a picture flits before me: 
Scene, . . . private room in Barnum's Restaurant, Virginia, 
Nevada; present, Artemus Ward, Joseph T. Goodman 
(editor and proprietor " Daily Enterprise "), and " Dan de 
Quille" and myself, reporters for same; remnants of the 
feast thin and scattering, but such tautology and repetition 
of empty bottles everywhere visible as to be offensive to the 
sensitive eye ; time, 2.30 A. M. Artemus thickly reciting a 
poem about a certain infant you wot of, and interrupting 
himself and being interrupted every few lines by poundings 
of the table and shouts of, "Splennid, by Shorzhel" 
Finally, a long, vociferous, poundiferous, and vitreous 
jingling of applause announces the conclusion, and then 
Artemus: "Let every man 'at loves his fellow-man and 
'predates a poet 'at loves his fellow-man, stan' up ! . . . 
Stan' up and drink health and long life to Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich! . . . and drink it stanningi" (On all hands fer- 
vent, enthusiastic, and sincerely honest attempts to com- 


ply.) Then Artemus: "Well — consider it stanning, and 
drink it just as ye are!" Which was done. . . . 

. . . Once more I apologize, and this time I do it 
"stanning!" Yours truly, 

Samuel L. Clemens. 

T. B. Aldrich to Samuel L, Clemens 

Feb. 9, 1871. 

Dear Mr. Clemens, — I have been a long while ac- 
knowledging the receipt of your cheerful letter; but you 
understand how a man who writes perpetual "leaders" 
sometimes finds that the pen he uses for his private corre- 
spondence weighs about a ton. Now and then I kick over 
my personal inkstand ; but I have just set it up on end and 
refilled it, in order to thank you for your entertaining pages. 
I am glad that I accused you of "The Three Aces," and 
ruflSed your feelings, and caused you to tell me about poor 
Artemus Ward. ... All this would n't have happened if 
I had not wronged you. 

When you come to Boston, if you do not make your pre- 
sence manifest to me, I'll put a ^ in "Every Saturday," to 
the ejffect that though you are generally known as Mark 
Twain, your favorite nom de plume is "Barry Gray." I 
flatter myself that will bring you. 

Yours very truly, 

T. B. Aldrich. 


In 1 87 1 Mr. Fields retired from partnership in the firm 
for which, he had done so much, and Mr. Osgood was left 
in supreme command. Brilliant publisher as the latter was, 
his reach rather exceeded his grasp, and one of his first 
enterprises after the dissolution of the partnership was 
doomed to ultimate disaster. *' Every Saturday" was 
shifted from the field in which it had made its success and 
converted into a large illustrated weekly, a competitor of 
" Harper's Weekly," then in the height of its brilliant career. 
From the first, Aldrich seems to have had his misgivings, 
and even for a time listened to the suggestion of Lowell 
and Professor Francis J. Child that he should accept an 
instructorship in belles leitres at Harvard. In the end, how- 
ever, this project fell through, fortunately we may beEeve. 
for American poetry, and Aldrich continued in his edi- 
torial relation to ^' Every Saturday" for a little longer. 

The new scope of the paper was the cause of another 
inspiriting acquaintance destined to a tragic termination. 
Ralph Keeler, the vivacious author of papers in the 
"Atlantic" on "Three Years a Negro Minstrel," and "A 
Tour of Europe on $181," was appointed art editor of 
"Every Saturday" after its sea change, and soon came to 
terms of comradeship with Aldrich and Mr. Howells. In 
the course of a few years, however, the exciting progress of 
the Cuban insurrection became too strong for Keeler's 
spirit of adventure, and .despite the remonstrances of his 
friends he set out for Cuba as special correspondent of the 
"Tribune." Before his departure Aldrich exacted from 


him the promise that when, with a halter about his neck, 
he should be carted out to the public square of Havana for 
execution, he would utter as his last words : — 

"Ladies and Gentlemen: If I had taken the advice of 
my friend, Mr. T. B. Aldrich, author of ' Marjorie Daw, and 
Other People,' I should not now be in this place !" 

The pleasantry turned to grisly earnest. Keeler was mys- 
teriously lost at sea — probably murdered as the result 
of a political intrigue — before he reached the Cuban 
shore. • 

What Aldrich was doing and thinking in the spring of 
1872 may be seen from a letter to Mr. Stedman; — 

, . . Boston, April 5, 1872. 

My dear Stedman, — I have been down to old Ports- 
mouth to pick up some of my native air, and so pray you to 
forgive me for not thanking you for your note and the poem. 
The poem is admirable and shall have a place of honor in 
*'The Pellet." The verses have a flavor I have not found in 
other translations. I want very much to see the rest of your 
work in this kind. Can't you get Osgood to add your 
translation to his noble series ? Did I pitch into New York ? 
My dear fellow, my head was all in a muddle, I think, when 
I wrote that note, but my heart was quite in the right place. 
I remember nothing but asking you to send me a contribu- 
tion for the paper. With my head not in a muddle, I will 
say that the happiest years of my life have been spent in 
this funny old town. In the six years I have been here, I 


have found seven or eight hearts so full of noble things that 
there is no room in them for such trifles as envy and conceit 
and insincerity. I did n't find more than two or three such 
hearts in New York, and I lived there fifteen years. It was 
an excellent school for me — to get out of ! I wonder that I 
got out of it with my English tolerably correct. It is a great 
world, and I would come back to it (you see I am writing as 
if I were a disembodied spirit with particularly snug quar- 
ters in Heaven) if I could drive a four-in-hand, own a couple 
of opera-houses with aU the Terpsichorean live stock, and 
be colonel of the 9th Regiment in pleasant weather. No- 
thing short of this would induce me. Life in a young palace 
here, with plenty of friends and books and reasons for loving 
both, is better than poverty in New York. . . . 

Your friend, Tom. 

The next day he wrote to Mr. Howells : — 
"Things went so weU with my story last night that I am 
game this morning to undertake the Presidentship of Har- 
vard College, if need be. Don't you think Elmwood would 
make a comfortable residence, if one could run a bridge 
over to Longfellow's house, using that for kitchen and 
store-room purposes?" 

It was a peculiar quality in Aldrich's whimsical fancies 
that many of them came true, and this is an interesting 
instance. For a year or two prior to 1872 it had seemed to 
his fatherly solicitude that the city air had not wholly 
agreed with the swiftly growing twins. When, therefore, in 


the summer of that year Lowell went abroad for a well- 
earned rest, the pleasant arrangement was made that the 
Aldriches should lease Elmwood during the two years of 
his absence. The flavor of his life there is in two letters 
written early in the following year ; one to Bayard Taylor, 
and one to the absent master of the house : — 

Elmwood, Jan'y 9, 1873. 

My dear Bayard, — ... I wish I had time to tell you 
how pleasant our life is in beautiful old Elmwood. You 
know what a charming place it is. We have it for two years, 
dating from last July. The outdoor life has worked a won- 
derful change in my boys, who have become hardy young 
giants already. Sunrise and sunset, rainstorms and snow- 
storms, have quite a new meaning to us here, after being 
cooped up so many years in a city house. Until winter set in 
Lilian and I wandered among the pines and worked in the 
flower-garden just as we supposed our ancestors did, before 
Mr. Darwin suppressed Adam and Eve and gave us quite a 
different set of parents. I wish you and yours could spend a 
winter night at our big wood-fire. Lowell's library is a won- 
derful room to work in. In spite of the awful old fellows — 
Greeks, Tuscans, Germans, and Frenchmen — who look 
down on me from their shelves, I have dared to begin a 
novel in the midst of them. I have the thing half done and 
am very hopeful about it. A New England story, scene in 
Rivermouth, some good characters, and a most excellent 
plot. I don't expect it to be the American Novel, but I do 


think it will be a light, pleasant story for old folks, as ''The 
Bad Boy" was for young people. . . . Take this with our 
love from 

Your friend, Tom. 

Elmwood, Feb'y 14, 1873. 

My dear Lowell, — You will be glad by this time, I 
take it, to see a note-sheet with Elmwood written in one 
corner. Does not the word up there seem like the photo- 
graph of a friend ? I don't wonder you love the place. It is a 
friendly old home, so fond of making people comfortable 
that it cannot be cold even to strangers. It has taken us to 
its heart, and sheltered us, and warmed us, and let its chim- 
neys croon its best ditties for us just as if we were its own 
brood. Still I think the invisible gods about the house have 
missed you and mourned for you. Strange sounds have 
been heard at night in the upper rooms, in the laundry 
especially. On particularly cold nights I beHeve there is a 
company of phantoms who keep themselves warm by run- 
ning each other through the mangle ! The spirit who pre- 
sides in the Hbrary has probably had the hardest time of it. 
It must have gone against his grain, at first, to see a fellow 
writing thin romance and short-breathed lyrics at your 
desk ! . . . I am living en gargon, just now, Mrs. Aldrich 
and the boys — who have become as hardy as oaks — hav- 
ing gone to New York. ... I shall get about 150 pages of 
The Great American Novel done before they return. You 
see, you would n't write it yourself. We have had a happy 


wihter here. At this writing there are twelve or thirteen 
inches of snow on the ground. It has been snowing since 
daybreak. I go to the window every ten minutes to look 
upon the wonderful picture outside — the picture you must 
have looked upon in how many different moods! As I 
glance out of the window next the parlor, I find it hard to 
believe that only a few weeks ago I went down the grassy 
terrace one morning — the grass kept its color very late 
this year — to gather the unique pear which the boys had 
left me. (The pear, by the way, had been taken over 
night.) It does n't look much like fruit down there at 
present. The youth of Cambridge took every peach, pear, 
quince, and grape as it ripened ! But next summer I shall 
be on my guard. 

, Sitting at the fireside and toasting my toes, these winter 
nights, I have written you hundreds of letters, in my head. 
Luckily for you, there are no mail arrangements for the 
transportation of such airy epistles. ... 
Ever faithfully yours, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

The allusion in this letter to the phantoms at Elmwood 
was not altogether a whimsicality. Throughout his life 
Aldrich nearly half believed, as he would tell with a 
humorous shudder, that there were ghostly presences 
within its walls. 

The novel that has been several times mentioned in the 
letters we have been reading was "Prudence Palfrey," 


which began its serial appearance in the "Atlantic" for 
January, 1874. This, Aldrich's first longer work in prose 
for mature readers since the forgotten "Daisy's Neck- 
lace" and "Out of his Head," met from the start with a 
gratifying reception. For years the newspaper reviewers 
of his short stories had been advising him to try a " novel of 
New England life," and several of his intimate friends were 
winning the public with ventures in that kind. Dr. Holmes 
in particular, a poet whom he much admired, had done 
well with prose fiction of a type that Aldrich thought 
specially suitable to his own talent. Without being in any 
sense imitative of "Elsie Venner" and her fellows, "Pru- 
dence Palfrey" is clearly of the same genre. It will scarcely 
take a place in the first rank of American fiction. The cur- 
rent of its narrative is not of sufiScient volume for that. 
Yet there are few stories in our literature that show at once 
such a sharp objective envisagement of New England char- 
acters and such pleasing touches of a light fantastic pen. 
Singularly applicable to it, as to all of Aldrich's work in 
prose, are the old poet's lines : — 

"His candid style like a clean stream does slide, 
And his bright fancy all the way 
Does like the sunshine in it play." 

The success of "Prudence Palfrey" and the still more 
notable success of "Marjorie Daw, and Other People" in 
book-form came at a fortunate moment, for it enabled 
Aldrich to write as he did, " my salary is small but my heart 
is great," in the anxious hour when the house of Osgood, 


and " Every Saturday " with it, came full upon the reef 
that his sharp eyes had sighted some months before. Just 
what happened is explicitly stated in the course of a let- 
ter from Aldrich to Taylor : — 

" Long before this reaches you, you will have heard of the 
miserable changes that have taken place in *the corner 
bookstore.* Scribner & Co. have bought and swallowed 
*Our Young Folks,' and the * Atlantic' and * Every Satur- 
day' belong to Houghton. Howells has gone with the 
'Atlantic,' permanently, I fancy; and I am to edit 'Every 
Saturday' for one year, and then I am on the town. After 
being so closely connected with Osgood for nearly nine 
years, you may imagine that I feel as if I had been cut 
adrift. I suppose I shall float. Perhaps my light stories 
will keep me from sinking. I have really made a success, 
much to my amazement. The twins did n't astonish me 
more. ... I am pleased that you like the sketches, and 
I hope you will like the long story, 'Prudence Palfrey.' 
Two instalments have been printed in the 'Atlantic' and 
have been received with more favor than I expected, for the 
first third of the novel seems rather tame to me. It is in 
the 4th, 5th, and 6th instalments that I depend to prove 
whether I have a right to tell a story at all. The opening 
chapters (the January No.) were printed while I was wait- 
ing for a 'revised proof.' I shall change several things 
when I put the story into book-form. I am enjoying the 
novel sensation of having all the magazines after me for my 
wares and leaving the price to me ; but I don't mean to do 


an)rthing carelessly, or merely for money, though I never 
was so poor/' 

As the summer of 1874 drew on, and the time came for 
Lowell's return, the Aldriches began to make their prepara- 
tions for leaving Elmwood. On May 27, 1874, Aldrich 
wrote his last letter from the old house to its owner : — 

My DEAR Lowell, — It is always so great a pleasure 
to me to receive a note from your hand, that there is 
something almost epical in the way I have resisted writ- 
ing to you. I knew you were on the wing, and, though 
you are a lark that can drop its notes flying, I was not 
going to cripple you, simply because I was in a position to 
bring you down at long range. To dismiss the metaphor, 
I have been tempted on an average of twice a month to 
write to you, but I have resisted the temptation out of 
pure regard and friendship. I knew there were so many 
on both sides of the Atlantic whose claims on your time 
and kindness exceeded mine. I have just received a line 
from Howells telling me that you have misread my silencfe, 
and all the while I was hoping to win your love by my 
self-denial ! 

We have had a very happy two years on your hearth- 
stone, and shall never forget it. We shall always see our 
little children playing about the grounds and hear their 
merry voices ringing through the old house, whenever we 
think of Elmwood. I picture myself, years hence, a very 
aged party, limping out from Boston and lingering about 


the hospitable door in the sunshine, to pick up some scat- 
tered links of association.* 

... I do not know how I can give you a better welcome 
to your library than by telling you that every volume in it 
has been taken down and carefully dusted by my own hand. 
Now that the day is. near, wheii our broken china goes back 
into the crates, we have discovered the depth of our attach- 
ment to the place. You warned me of that. In rejoicing 
over the prospect of seeing you again, I feel that my moral 
nature has reached a height of which I did n't suspect it 
capable. . . . 

Your very faithful friend, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

P. S. I had a hard struggle the other day not to write 
you touching the poem on Agassiz. It is crowded with those 
fine new things which, the instant one lays eyes on them, 
seem to have been one's bosom friends from the beginning 
of time. 

"The Marquis of Thompson's Lot," as Lowell some- 
times liked playfully to style himself, returned to his home 
acres on the fourth of July, 1874, and the Aldriches went 
back to their Charles Street house. In the early autumn of 
that year both of the children were ill, and were left in so 
delicate a condition that their physician imperatively pre- 

* This prophetic picture was to be fulfilled, though without the cir- 
cumstance of age : see Aldrich's fine poem, Elmwood, written a score of 
years later. 


scribed for them the freedom of outdoor liffe. So the town 
house was again rented, this time for five years, and the 
Aldriches settled themselves in a comfortable remodeled 
farmhouse in the little village of Ponkapog, which lies 
nestled on the slope of Blue Hill, overlooking the Neponset 
marshes, twelve miles south of the city. 



WHEN in the autumn of 1874 Aldrich moved his 
household goods and gods to Ponkapog, he was 
thirty-eight years old ; he had labored for twenty years in 
the editorial mill; he had published seven volumes of verse 
and four of prose ; and he had decisively established him- 
self as one of the most delightful writers of his generation 
in both branches of literature. It was, therefore, with a 
serene and happy confidence that, after the final dissolu- 
tion of '* Every Saturday," he retired to his Sabine Farm, to 
taste the joys of entire freedom as only a weary editor can, 
and to realize the dream so dear to the heart of every man 
of letters of ** doing his own work" secure from interrup- 
tion. The five years to come were in a sense the most 
"literary" of his life. He had time at last to read, and his 
letters begin to reflect a new and broader interest in the 
methods of literary art, other men's art. He was, too, in his 
own writing, as he wrote Mr. Howells, " as prolific as the 
little old woman who lived in a shoe." The "Atlantic 
Monthly" was ready to take as much copy as he could send, 
and between 1875 and 1880 he printed in its pages twenty- 
three poems, "The Queen of Sheba," "The Stillwater 


Tragedy," and most of the sketches that carry the reader 
"From Ponkapog to Pesth," — or very nearly one half of 
his entire collected work in prose. 

The happiness that he found in his leisure for the work he 
loved best was reenforced by numerous pleasant factors in 
his daily life. He spent many hours with his boys, fishing 
for perch and pickerel in Ponkapog Pond ; and, whenever 
he felt the need of a more mature companion he could 
depend on the comradeship of his nearest neighbor, Hon. 
Henry L. Pierce, who was destined for the next quarter of a 
century to hold a more intimate place in our poet's friend- 
ship than any one else outside his kindred. 

In December, 1874, Aldrich, desirous of embellishing 
therewith his library at Ponkapog, asked Mark Twain for 
his picture. Mr. Clemens obligingly began sending him one 
a day. After two weeks Aldrich mildly protested against 
the t)hotographic deluge, with the result that, on New 
Year's Day, 1875, he received twenty separate copies of the 
effigies of Mr. Clemens, in twenty separate covers. The 
episode was the occasion of a brace of entertaining letters 
which reflect something of the exhilaration with which he 
entered upon his new life : — 

Ponkapog, Mass., Dec. 22, 1874. 

/My dear Clemens, — When I subscribed to "The 

Weekly Photograph" I had some doubts as to whether I 

should get the numbers regularly. The police, you know, 

have a way of swooping down on that kind of publication. 


The other day they gobbled up an entire edition of " The 
Life in New York." I trust that the " Life " of Hartford (or 
any other place he happens to be in) will not come to grief 
that way. It is a good portrait. Looks like a man who has 
just thrown off an epic in twelve books, for relaxation. I 
was glad to get the picture of where you live. It is appar- 
ently a comfortable little shanty. Cosy, and all that sort of 
thing. But you ought to see my Mansion at Ponkapog. It 
could n't have cost less than $1500 to build. And then the 
land. Land at Ponkapog brings $25 per acre ; but then real 
estate has gone up everywhere. The soil there is so light 
that it would go up of itself, if you let it alone. They have 
to put manure on it to keep it down. The house is furnished 
in a style of Oriental splendor. Straw matting everywhere 
— even in the servants' rooms straw matting. It's as com- 
mon with us as Turkey rugs and Wilton carpets in the 
houses of the poor. Of course you can't have these things, 
but you are content. I like to see a man living within his 
means — and content. 

That day after I left you, or you left me, or we left each 
other — I don't know how to state the sorrowful occurrence 
correctly — I went out and hunted up old Howells and car- 
ried him off with me to my suburban Palace. He wandered 
from room to room bewildered by the fluted pillars (on the 
beds !) and the gorgeous architecture of the coal- bins. We 
wished for you, but that goes without saying. Howells got 
to laughing in the early part of the evening, did n't let up at 
all, carried him off to bed at j4 past 11, still laughing — the 


same old laugh he had started at 7 o'clock. I woke up two 
or three times somewhere near daybreak, and he was 
a-going it ! . . . 

Yours always, T. B. Aldrich. 

Police Headquarters, 
PoNKAPOG, Mass., Jan. i, 1875. 

Sir, — At 4 p. m. this day, the entire Constabulary force 
of Ponkapog — consisting of two men and a resolute boy 
— broke camp on the border of Wampumsoagg Pond, and 
took up its march in four columns to the scene of action — 
the post-office. There they formed in a hollow square, and 
moved upon the postmaster. The mail had already arrived, 
but the post agent refused to deliver it to the force. The 
truculent official was twice run through a mince-meat 
machine before he would disclose the place where he had 
secreted the mail-bag. The mail-bag was then unstitched 
with the aid of one of Wheeler & Wilson's sewing-machines 
and the contents examined. The bag, as was suspected, 
contained additional evidence of the dreadful persecution 
that is going on in our midst. There were found no fewer 
that 20 (twenty) of those seditious, iniquitous, diabolical 
and highly objectionable prints, engravings, and photo- 
graphs, which have lately been showered — perhaps hurled 
would be the better word — upon Mr. Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich, a respectable and inoffensive citizen of Ponkapog. 

The perpetrator of the outrage is known to the police, 
and they are on his track — in your city. An engraving 
with a green background, in which was a sprawling yellow 


figure, leaves us no room to doubt. This figure was at once 
recognized by several in the crowd as an admirable likeness 
of one Mark Twain, alias "The Jumping Frog," a well- 
known Californian desperado, formerly the chief of Henry 
Plumer^s Band of Road Agents in Montana, who has 
recently been "doing" the public not only in the Northern 
States of America, but in the realm of Queen Victoria. 
That he will be speedily arrested and brought to Ponkapog, 
to face his victim, is the hope of every one here. If you could 
slyly entice him to come into the neighborhood, you would 
be doing a favor to the community. Would n't the induce- 
ment of regular meals, and fishing through the ice, fetch 
him? Do something! In the meanwhile the post-office is 
closely watched. 

Yours respectfully, 

T. Bayleigh, 

Chief of Police. 

On the outside of the envelope was written : — ■ 

It is no use for that person to send any more letters here. 
The post-office at this point is to be blown up. Forty-eight 
hogsheads of nitro-glycerine have been surreptitiously 
introduced into the cellar of the building, and more is 
expected. R. W. E., H. W. L., O. W. H., and other con- 
spirators in masks, have been seen flitting about the town 
for several days past. The greatest excitement combined 
with the most intense quietness reigns at Ponkapog. 

T. Bayleigh. 


Aldrich's literary occupation at this time is narrated in 
a letter to Mr. Howells written on the same day as the 
preceding. The story referred to in the course of it is his 
'^ Midnight Fantasy": — 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Jan. i, 1875. 

My dear Howells, — I send you herewith the new 
story. ... I do not intend to write another story for ten 
or twelve months. In conception and workmanship this is 
an advance on anything I have done, — a love story with a 
dimple. The dimple being the sly burlesque which here and 
there breaks the surface of a serious poetical narrative. I 
have softly lifted the tragic element out of two tragedies, 
and dovetailed them into a genteel comedy. It is a bur- 
lesque that is not coarse. It is a new thing. (You will par- 
don my candid self-appreciation. We " Californian Humor- 
ists," you know, were never too modest.) I think I have 
caught the spirit of Mercutio's character; I know I have 
"put a" sensible "head on" Romeo, and if I have n't im- 
proved Juliet, I feel that if Shakespeare himself were here, 
he would acknowledge that I have made a more compan- 
ionable and less clammy fellow out of Hamlet. Would n't 
he be mad, though, — William ! I direct your respectful 
attention to the fact that many of the best things, which you 
will take for Shakespeare's, are my own. What is the 
Italian plural for Capulet and Montague — Capelletti and 
Montecchi ? I want to use it in one place. 

Do you know I — in a moment of weakness — asked 


that rogue Mark Twain for his photograph, and he has 

been sending me one every day regularly for two weeks ? I 

am piling them up out in the barn. 

Such lovely sunshine and skating here ! A Happy New 

Year to you and yours on Concord Avenue. 

Yours ever, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

No. 19,908 Washington St. 

P. S. Think of Father Fields catching the midnight 
marauder among his autographs ! Does n't it make a pic- 
ture in your eye ? 

The Ponkapog mail has just brought me your note — 
thanks ! — and twenty separate photographs of Clemens ! ! ! 
on my word and honor as a Christian, twenty ! 

In March, 1875, leaving the boys at Ponkapog with a 
couple of grandmothers and an aunt to watch over them, 
the Aldriches sailed from New York for the first of many 
European tours. They landed in Liverpool, and spent a 
week or two in London, making some pleasant acquaint- 
ances among the men of letters there. Thence they jour- 
neyed by way of Paris and Marseilles to the Riviera, made 
the Italian giro of Florence, Rome, and Venice, turned 
eastward as far as Vienna and Budapest, went north along 
the Rhine, and spent the summer among the cathedrals and 
literary shrines of the British Isles. As was his wont when 
upon his travels, Aldrich wrote very few letters. Indeed, 


almost the only one that has been preserved telHng of this 
tour is the following characteristic paternal communication 
to his boys : — 

Glasgow, Aug. i8, 1875. 

My dear little Sons, — You cannot think how much 
I want to see you, and how long it seems since we went 
away from Ponkapog. I wonder if it seems a long time to 
you. Do you remember that we played ball the day we left, 
and that I hit one of you — I forget which one — on the 
nose? Well, when I get back we will have another good 
time, with you two up on the stairs and me in the hall 
below, and then look out for noses ! We are coming home 
pretty soon now. In just one month from to-day — four 
Sundays — we shall go on a big ship and sail night and day 
for New York. And when we get to New York it won't take 
us very long to get to Ponkapog, I can tell you ! I don't 
believe I shall wait even to see my mother, I shall so much 
want to see my Max and Maurice. We have quite a lot of 
nice things for you in our trunks. When I was in Edin- 
burgh the other day I bought you two pretty Scotch caps 
for winter. The boys here wear them, and I said to myself, 
"Charley and Tal ought to have caps like those." Your 
mother has bought for both boys a clock like Mr. Lowell's, 
with a bird that comes out and cries " Cuckoo" every hour. 
You must hang this clock up in the hall, so that everybody 
can see it and know what time of day it is. . . . We have 
been to-day out in the country to see a little house in which 
a poet named Robert Burns was born. He wrote verses, 


just as your father does, only his verses were not quite so 
good as your father's ! 

And, now, my little sons, I say "good-night" to you. 
You must be going to bed at this moment. I shut my eyes 
and make believe I can see you in your night-gowns. I shall 
have some fresh stories to tell you when I get back — stories 
about donkeys and big dogs, larger than Mr. Pierce's. 
Don't play in the sun these hot days, but keep well and nice 
for us. I was sorry to hear about Tal's toothache and hope 
he won't have it any more. Your little mother sends you 
kisses with mine. 

Your loving father, Tom. 

In October, 1875, he arrived home full of memories and 
literary projects. To Fields he wrote : — 

"Our summer abroad was without a flaw. (I can't say 
without a flea !) We enjoyed keenly every moment, and I 
have come back chock-full of mental intaglios and Vene- 
tian glass and literary bric-k-brac generally. Mark Twain 
writes to me : ' God he knows we are glad to have you home 
again, but don't talk 1 ' I won't — on paper unsalable to the 

And to Stedman : "I have had a very rich six months, 
I am quite certain that whatever I do in the future, even if it 
is only to whitewash a fence, will bear the impress of that 
wider experience." His expectation was to be fulfilled. In 
his work for the next few years, such poems as "The 
Legend of Ara-Coeli" and "Lynn Terrace," such prose 


sketches as "A Visit to a Certain Old Gentlemail," were 
to show that vivid background of recollected travel which 
was to remain one of the most characteristic and delightful 
traits of his later work. 

The story of his moods and occupations for the next 
year of his life is told in a group of letters to Mr. How- 
elk, Stedman, and Bayard Taylor. 

To W. D, Howells 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Nov. 27, 1875. 
Dear Howells, — I have returned the proofs which 
came to me last night. — Dear friend, think of the dreary 
"odes" there are of 400 lines and upwards! 400 lines is 
not too long for a story poem in which there is the faintest 
attempt at character and action. The pith of my narra- 
tive is the woman's sorrow over not having children, her 
pathetic — there goes our old friend ! — desire of mother- 
hood, the linking of the legend to that — the husband's 
kindness and unkindness, the characters of the two pea- 
sants, the story of their simple lives, in short. The steal- 
ing of the bambino, and the return of the little blockhead 
to the convent are merely incidents, explaining, in passing, 
why the Child is so strictly guarded nowadays. The cli- 
max of the poem — the mysterious death of the woman, 
who had been only making believe sick — I thought that 
strong, if it is n't. The bare story I know is lovely and 
sufficient. Of the art I cannot judge now. I took the great- 
est pleasure in writing it, and my private savage critic 

* Of The Legend of Ara-Coeli. 


says she thinks it the best poem I have written or ever 
will write. I hope she's a good judge — and no prophet- 
ess ! I shall be glad to get your second thoughts on the 
poem, which you may let Mr. Longfellow read, if you 
will. Perhaps you will tell me if it is allowable to call 
my monk Bartolomo instead of Bartolomeo. Also if 
^^ soit-Albanian^^ is correct. If I cannot use Bartolomo, 
how would Fra Ignasio * do ? I 've written in pencil on a 
leaf of the MS. a list of o's. Maybe there 's a good name 
among them. (How I would have liked Ipolito !) I '11 let 
you trouble me as much as this when you come to write 
a New Hampshire epic. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

* Ignasio sounds to me like a homoeopathic remedy ! 

To the Same 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Dec. 13, 1875. 

Dear Howells, — We had so charming a visit at your 
house that I have about made up my mind to reside with 
you permanently. I am tired of writing. I would like to 
settle down in just such a comfortable home as yours, with 
a man who can work regularly four or five hours a day, 
thereby relieving one of all painful apprehensions in 
respect to clothes and pocket-money. I am easy to get 
along with. I have few unreasonable wants and never com- 
plain when they are constantly supplied. I think I could 
depend on you. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 


P. S. I should want to bring my two mothers, my two 
boys (I seem to have everything in twos), my wife, and her 

To the Same 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., March i, 1876. 

My dear Howells, — I knew very well that you had 
the lease of the Shirley house in your pocket the day Mrs. 
Aldrich and I made our superfluous pilgrimage (to give it 
a mild name) to Cambridge ; but it would n't have been 
polite in me to say so. One of my clever French authors 
remarks: "To blush is sometimes the height of indeli- 
cacy." I suppose it is all for the best, — looking at the 
question from Mrs. T. B.'s point of view, I am certain it 15. 
"If they go to Shirley," she says, "they'll be sorry they 
did n't come to Ponkapog ; if they come to Ponkapog, they 
will always regret that they did n't goto Shirley." A person 
who has enjoyed the privilege of living in my society as 
many years as Mrs. Aldrich has, is not likely to skim on the 
surface of things. She would naturally make remarks like 
that. . . . 

I am ten letter-pages deep in a new story which I fancy 
will be long enough to print in two instalments. It is 
entitled "The Queen of Sheba." A young fellow falls in 
with a singularly beautiful girl in an Insane Asylum, and 
afterwards meets her abroad, travelling with her mother, 
and comes near marrying the girl. The girl has recovered, 
and does not remember that she was once the " Queen of 
Sheba." Here is a grand chance for something at once 


humorous and tragic. I feel at my poor best in the story, 
and in respect to style and characterization, I intend to 
leave my other prose tales behind — in their proper places ! 
I have n^t the heart to congratulate you on your birthday. 
I used to coddle mine, playing with it, as an infant plays 
with a powder-horn. A birthday is likely to go off any time, 
and leave a fellow dead, or at least mutilated for life. . . . 
Yours very sincerely, T. B. A. 

P. S. I think the last ''P. T." Ms thoroughly charming. 
Nothing could be better managed than the misunder- 
standing between Easton and Gilbert. How many months 
is the story to run ? I suppose you have two more novels 
nearly written. I never saw such an inexhaustible bottle ! 

I notice that brother Whipple writes our obituaries in 
"Harper's" for March. By the way, he says some things 
about the elder gods (Emerson, for instance) which prove 
that Whipple has his own mind on certain subjects. The 
cunning thing in the article is the way he skylarks with Dr. 
Holland. A page of downright abuse would not have been 
so severe. 

As I don't mean to write you again for several months, 
I shall not put a snaffie-bit on the nib of this high-spirited 

Unless I go to town, I never see any daily paper except 
the " Transcript." I have n't the slightest idea whether 
" Ara-CoeU " has attracted attention or not. When you look 

1 Private Theatricals. 


over the March notices, I wish you would send me the best 
one and the worst one. It was a poem not calculated to 

please rustic critics like . "It is curious that men 

should resent more fiercely what they suspect to be good 
verses, than what they know to be bad morals." 

My friend, you are shirking. I find but one pencil mark 
of yours on my proof. Someone in red has annotated me. 
Several of his suggestions are excellent, the others would 
ruin me if I followed them. I like your marginal notes even 
when I disagree with them, which is not often. When I get 
the article straightened out I'll come to Cambridge and 
run over it with you if you are very much engaged. 

I hope your little ones got well the same day you mailed 
me the postal card. My boys are having fine times coasting 
and building snow-forts. 

To the Same 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., March 20, 1876. 

My dear Howells, — ... Will not the Riverside 
folks let me have another glance at the "Old Gentleman" 
before they stretch him on the rack ? I don't know that it is 
important, but I am anxious not to have any particularly 
weak spots in that article. . . . 

If you '11 come out I '11 read you — or not read you, just 
as you please — the first two chapters of " The Queen of 
Sheba," which promises not to be too stupid. 

I got the "Atlantic" last night and read it at once like 
a rustic subscriber. I don't see what you are going to do 


with Mrs. Farwell. I would n't have her on my hands for a 
fortune. Lathrop's paper is exceedingly good, and Scud- 
der's could n't be better, in its way. But as I 'm not paid for 
this sort of thing, I'll stop. 

I cannot at this moment put my finger on the line which 
connects the publishers in America with the falling of my 
chimneys in Charles Street, but I feel very keenly that 
somebody in the trade has got to suffer presently, and will 
not regard the thing as a joke. The sight of a brick lying in 
the road turns my stomach. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

P. S. I've just written the jolliest little tearful ballad you 
ever saw. 

To Bayard Taylor 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., April 16, 1876. 
My dear Bayard, — ... You ask me why I bury 
myself in these wilds. I never was so comfortable. I've an 
old farmhouse with five rooms on a floor : I have garnished 
it with all my city furniture, pictures, books, draperies, 
etc. I've one hundred and twenty-five chickens! I have 
butter that would cost you a dollar per pound in New York, 
and milk that you cannot get at any price. ... I am 
twelve miles from my lemon — -the "Atlantic Monthly." 
With the rent of the house in Charles Street, and the dollars 
which literature brings me, I am more independent than 
the late A. T. Stewart ever was. When I feel like it, I write ; 
I 've a lot of things in MS. When I don't care to work, I 


read, and study Italian. The German language is a foe 
whom I intend to lay out next summer. I should deserve to 
be put into a lunatic asylum if I were to give up this life for 
the sake of going to New York to live in a flat, the rent of 
which would take half my income. We have had a charm- 
ing winter here ; in summer the place is delightful. I do not 
know a locality, except Portsmouth, that has so many lovely 
roads winding about it. Altogether, I don't ask anything 
better for the next two or three years — I have a lease for 
five. When my boys are older I mean to go abroad and 
remain long enough for them to learn to speak French and 
German. All this, God willing. . . . 

I had an odd mail the other day, bringing me letters from 
Yeddo, London, Florence, Leipzig, Paris, and Rome ! The 
postmaster here regards me as a suspicious character. But 
don't you. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

To the Same 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Oct. lo, 1876. 
My dear Bayard, — I find this in the Boston " Cou- 
rier" of the 8th: — 

The New York " Tribune," in referring to the fact that Mr. Thomas 
Bailey Aldrich is to publish next month a volume of the best of his un- 
collected poems under the dainty title of " Flower and Thorn," says that 
the poet dwells "in a village about twenty miles from Boston, possessing 
the most musical and most melancholy name of Ponkafrog, and sur- 
rounded by much good fishing." The ",Tribune " has made the name of the 
village more melancholy, if not more musical, than it really is — Ponka- 


pog, not Ponkafrog, being the proper appellation according to the ortho- 
graphy of to-day. It is the Indian name of the township of Canton 
(within whose bounds the village in question lies), and, according to the 
Rev. Elias Nason, was originally spelled Punkapoag. As regards the 
fishing, we are inclined to think the information imparted by our con- 
temporary to be correct, for Ponkapog Pond and the tributary stream 
which flows through Ponkapog Village used to be plentifully stocked 
with fish. Whatever may be the nature of the locality into which Mr. 
Aldrich's lines may fall, he certainly composes them in an exceedingly 
pleasant place. 

I wish you would, like a good fellow, send me a copy of 
the " Tribune " containing your % I did n't know until I 
saw the "Courier" that Osgood had announced the book. 
I shall make a volume of about one hundred and fifty or 
one hundred and sixty pages, containing nothing that has 
not some sort of excuse for being. I leave out all the verses 
written merely for bread or vanity. The collection will con- 
tain several poems never in print. On the whole, I think 
the book is an advance. It is something to add even an 
eighth of an inch to one's height. Scripter says we can't 
do it ! . . . Ever yours, T. B. 

To E. C. Stedman 

Ponkapog, Mass., Nov. 16, 1876. 
My dear Stedman, — Last night's mail brought me 
your essay on Frothingham. As I did not chance to see the 
number of the " Galaxy" in which it was printed, the little 
book was wholly fresh for me. The essay is well worth 
saving from the oblivion which overtakes all magazine flesh. 
Your estimate of F. and your presentation of his creed are 


admirable. They increased my admiration for Frothing- 
ham, which was scarcely necessary, for I have long held him 
as one of our clearest heads and sincerest spirits. I like his 
unaffected fine sense. He has none of that affectation of the 
Seer and Oracle which were well enough in Emerson at a 
period when George P. Morris was considered a poet. . . . 
Frothingham, it seems to me, is a thinker to some purpose. 
He gives a rational man something solid to stand on. I ad- 
mire his liberality; it shakes hands with something in me 
which has made me wish, before now, to contribute to a 
fund for the purchase of a new cart for the Juggernaut. I 
should be a deacon of his church if I lived in New York, 
and if the New Faith permitted deacons. But let me get out 
of these dark waters, in which I can float but not swim. 

I passed a morning with Howells the other day, and he 
showed me a poem of yours — *'News from Olympia" — 
which struck me as one of your very best, but I won't pin 
myself down to that until I see the poem in print. He also 
gave me a long poem by Stoddard — a lovely and pathetic 
story written with great simplicity and effect. It is as fine 
in its own way as any narrative of its length in Morris's 
*' Earthly Paradise." But perhaps you know the poem. It 
is entitled " Wratislaw." I read it with a white mind, and 
I don't think I 've made a mistake about it. At any rate, I 
have written to Howells advising him not to let the length 
of the poem prevent him from putting it into the "Atlan- 
tic." All this is between you and me, . . . 

Your friend, T. B. 


To W, D. Howells 

PoNKAPOG, Dec. 13, 1876. 

Dear Howells, — Your note of the 9th had not reached 
me when I wrote to you, but I seemed to have answered 
it — Irish-like — before I received it. I wish I could grind 
you out a flowery and thorny lyric, but my little wind-mill 
is dismantled, the vans are taken off, and if anything were 
put into the hoppers it would run through on to grindstones 
that have ceased to revolve. I am afraid I shall be obliged 
to send Harper a prose article or return the check. I 'd like 
to buy an original poem of some poor devil who does n't 
get my prices. Though not on poetry bent I have a frugal 
mind. I am simply unable to write a stanza. I could n't 
make so good a rhyme as bootjack and handorgan. . . . 

The mail brings me a letter from dear old Taylor, so full 
of affection and unaffectedness that I am ashamed to love 
him with only all my heart. . . . Just think, my uncle 
and all his family were in that Brooklyn Theatre, and got 
out alive. One of my cousins reached the lobby and went 
hack and got his cane — three rows from the footlights ! 
There's a young man not doomed to be burnt in this world. 
Ever yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To Bayard Taylor 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Dec. 30, 1876. 
Dear Bayard, — I never in my life did so absurd a 
thing as to fancy that a cloud had fallen upon that side of 


your heart which is turned towards me. Even if I had seen 
you, carpet bag in hand, passing by my very gate at Ponka- 
pog, I ought to have said: "There goes the dear old boy; 
though he does n't stop, he loves me all the same. If I were 
to turn ungrateful, and envy him his hard- won laurels, and 
spitefully use him, he would still love me, because he is him- 
self one mass of faithfulness and loyalty." I don't know 
how I got any different idea into my head. Perhaps the 
utter seclusion of my life at Ponkapog let me drift into a 
half-morbid mood — a mood very foreign to my nature. 
However, I don't care now. The pleasure which your 
loving letter gave me makes me shamelessly glad that I 
doubted you ! Since that letter came I have been almost 
constantly on the wing between Ponkapog and Boston, 
visiting Howells and Pierce, and dining miscellaneously. 
These severe duties, with an episodical sty on my eyelid, 
have kept me from writing you. But I have finished my 
year's dissipation, and am back in my attic study full of the 
short serial story which I am to write for the "Atlantic." 
It will run through only three or four numbers. I learned 
a lot in writing " Prudence Palfrey." I intend to make this 
story as nearly perfect as I can. Howells says I have writ- 
ten nothing like the first three chapters — that's as far as 
I 've gone ; the rest ought to be better, for my heart is in the 
second and third portions of the narrative. It wiU differ 
from my other stories in having a serious denouement. 
Dear Bayard, your notice of "Flower and Thorn" in the 
" Tribune " was a great mental help to me. I stood sorely 


in need of such honest and judicious encouragement. . . . 
I wonder why a critic is not expected to write correct Eng- 
lish. I have before me thirty notices of my book. Twenty- 
five of them are simply illiterate. They make me laugh, but 
they make me sad, too. If the average culture of the men 
who sit in judgment on American literature is so low, what 
must be the intellectual state of the masses who are engaged 
in pursuits which afford them few chances for mental 
improvement? I am not making a personal complaint, I 
am complaining for all of us. I am treated quite as well by 
the press as any writer. I have been looking over the news- 
paper notices invoked by the five most notable books of the 
past six years, and it was a sickening task. I think it 
remarkable that American authors have turned out such 
fine works as they have since i860 in such a paralyzing 
atmosphere. Think what has been done in my branch oi 
letters within the last sixteen years. Excepting Bryant and 
LongfeUow, who reached their high-water mark before, 
there is scarcely an American author who has not done his 
best work — this, too, in the teeth of constantly decreasing 
appreciation. This hints at the glorious existence of men 
who had rather do an unnoticed good thing than be praised 
for a poor one. That abominations like Josh BiUings-gate 
are seeming successes, proves nothing — proves nothing 
new : that kind of fellow has always succeeded. What was 
it that Gautier said about the second-rate man in France ? 
" Sous Delacroix, vous avez Delaroche ; sous Rossini, Doni- 
zetti; sous Victor Hugo, M. Casimir Delavigne." Dr. 


Holland has twenty readers to Lowell's one, for instance. 
But there is the ** Commemoration Ode." Though politics 
have lost what little morality they had, literature has not 
lowered its standard. I have great hopes of it, and I think 
that a literary weekly journal, "written by gentlemen, for 
gentlemen" and discussing fairly all topics — social and 
political — would find ready support. The time is ripe for 
it, or will be the moment the political horizon is clear. The 
field is unoccupied. Whether Boston or New York is the 
headquarters for such a journal is an unsettled question 
with me : how the capital and the men for the undertaking 
are to be provided, are still more perplexing problems. Is 
this idea a brother or even a second cousin of the project 
you have in mind? You say: "The time has come when 
something can be done. I have considered, and am toler- 
ably clear how it is to be done." If it is anything I can have 
a hand in, I would like to talk it over with you. By and by, 
perhaps, after I have got the first draft of my story com- 
plete, I can run on to New York for a day or two. I am at 
present dreadfully behindhand in time and money. I put 
two or three hundred dollars' worth of printed matter in 
"F. and T." and wasted a month in getting the volume 
through the press. I attended to every detail, from the size 
of the type down to the degree of pressure the binder 
should use. . . . Ever yours, T. B. 

"Flower and Thorn," the collection of his verse that was 
the object of such anxious solicitude, was published at the 


end of 1876, with the date of 1877. Better, perhaps, than 
any of his previous volumes it exhibits the range of Aldrich's 
mature art. Following the exquisite dedication from which 
the volume takes its name, there were several important 
narrative poems ; a group of poems of the haunting Hei- 
nesque type ; several pieces with that peculiar humorous 
piquancy which he almost alone among American poets 
has been able to blend smoothly with a rich imaginative 
substance in musically flowing verse ; and, finally, a section 
of quatrains, each with its pregnant memorable thought 
turned in terse words with choice lapidarian skill. In every 
line the volume bore evidence of his poetic maturity, and 
also, it may be observed, of his increased practice in prose 
writing. From this point onward all of his writing in verse 
is grounded on that chastened prose style which lies at the 
bottom of the most enduring poetic style; and the occa- 
sional lyric vagueness and syntactical languor that had at 
rare intervals marked his earlier compositions wholly dis- 

Throughout the year 1876 Aldrich, as we have seen in 
his letters, was engaged upon his novel, "The Queen of 
Sheba." The story began its serial run in the " Atlantic " for 
January, 1877, and was published in book- form in the fall 
of the same year. Just before it came to its end in the maga- 
zine, Aldrich, in a letter to Stedman, had something to say 
of it that throws a suggestive light on his narrative method 
and ideals : — 

"That was a shrewd guess of yours," he wrote, "at the 


denouement of my story. You did n't hit the bull's eye, but 
you made a capital line-shot. If the target had n't been 
moved a little from its original position you 'd have pierced 
the centre. You have indicated my first intention; but 
Howells and Osgood were so opposed to a tragic ending 
that I was persuaded to change my plot at a moment when 
it was the devil's own work to extricate myself from the web 
I had spun around me. However, I have done it without 
making any sacrifice to art. You should read the last short 
chapter — Chapter XI — in my book instead of in the mag- 
azine, where the wind-up lacks the one little touch which 
takes away from its abruptness. 

"I have tried to avoid in this story the fault of James's 
novel, ' The American.' I think that characters in a novel 
should develop themselves by what they say and what they 
do — as in the drama. It appears to me a mistake to devote 
one or two hundred pages to the analysis of characters 
which accomplish nothing. The persons in James's book 
affect me like a lot of admirably *made up' actors in the 
green-room waiting for their cue. Au reste, I greatly admire 
Henry James. He is an essayist of the very finest type ; but 
he is not a natural story-teller. I don't mean to assume 
by all this that / am a born story-teller. I don't know, 
and am trying to find out." 

The characters in "The Queen of Sheba" undoubtedly 
"develop themselves," and yet it is not precisely the work 
of a " born story-teller." In the prevalence of the whimsical 
aside, in the conscious art of cool literary phrase, there is 


much of the very tone and flavor of essay writing that 
Aldrich was striving to avoid, though there was never any- 
thing roundabout in the structure. Perhaps we shall 
express the situation most nicely if we say that the novel 
is a poet's novel. It is marked throughout by a certain 
idyllic quality; and it is a poet's rather than a novelist's 
flair that shows the way in that fine opening passage where 
the romantic young gentleman upon his Rosinante rides 
out of Portsmouth in the golden light of a June morning in 
quest of the adventure that he is to find in a New England 
asylum for the insane and on an Alpine mountain. None 
but a poet could have managed that telling interpenetra- 
tion of action and landscape that is one of the most con- 
sistent qualities of the story, or conveyed so compellingly to 
all the senses the peculiar thrill of New Hampshire valley 
and Swiss upland. "Prudence Palfrey" and "The Still- 
water Tragedy " are pleasant novels, well sustained, with 
passages of exquisite writing; but into "The Queen of 
Sheba" Aldrich put not only his talent, but something of 
his genius as well. 

The next two years passed smoothly, with long poetic 
summers in the house he had taken on Lynn Terrace, and 
busy winters at Ponkapog, where he worked on his poems 
and sketches, translated for his boys M. BedoUiere's amus- 
ing story of "Mother Michel and her Cat," and leisurely 
labored on "The Stillwater Tragedy," the longest of his 
novels. As time went on, he was growing increasingly fas- 
tidious in the revision of his prose, and in the end he 


smoothed and filed it with the same loving, lingering care 
that he bestowed upon his poems. As he wrote in one of his 
letters : " There is only one critic I stand greatly in dread 
of; he becomes keener and more exacting every month; he 
is getting to be a dreadful fellow for me, and his name is 
T. B. Aldrich. There is no let up to him." 

In December, 1878, a keen sorrow came to him in the 
death of Bayard Taylor, who had gone abroad with his 
well-merited ministerial honors, never to return. To a 
friend he wrote : " . . . My heart is heavy just now with 
the death of Bayard Taylor, my dear friend, without a 
cloud, for twenty-five years. It is like losing an arm. It is 
worse than that — it is losing a loyal heart. He was a man 
without guile." 

There are few elegies in the language in which beautiful 
words are freighted with so sincere a sorrow as in Aldrich's 
poem on his dead friend. In its concluding passage the 
lines have a throb of grief that penetrates the beautiful 
imagery with deep Virgilian intimations of the spring of 
tears in mortal things : — 

" What sounds are these of farewell and despair 
Borne on the winds across the wintry main! 
What unknown way is this that he has gone, 
Our Bayard, in such silence and alone ? 
What dark new quest has tempted him once more 
To leave us ? Vainly, standing by the shore, 
We strain our eyes. But patience ! When the soft 
Spring gales are blowing over Cedarcroft, 
Whitening the hawthorn; when the violets bloom 
Along the Brandywine, and overhead 

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The sky is blue as Italy's, he will come . . . 
In the wind's whisper, in the swaying pine, 
In song of bird and blossoming of vine, 
And all fair things he loved ere he was dead ! " 

In January, 1879, the Aldriches sailed for a second 
European tour. London was their first objective point, 
where our poet met Browning and spent many pleasant 
hours with others of the literati. He was pleased to find 
that the author of ''Sordello" had long been an admirer 
of "Pere Antoine" and "Marjorie Daw," of "Nameless 
Pain" and "Fredericksburg"; but the happiest memories 
of this European visit were of his weeks in Spain, a land 
that he had visited in imagination how many times before ! 
Then came a brief stay in Paris, where he demonstrated to 
Mr. Clemens which was the more popular author with the 
French people. Leading him to the window of a book- 
shop in the Rue Saint-Honore, where a single copy of his 
own poems was displayed for sale, Aldrich thus explained 
the situation: "I have asked this shopkeeper if he has 
any more of the works of Aldrich, and he says no ; so you 
see the sale has been great — for this is the only copy left; 
but he says he has several shelves full of the works of Mark 
Twain, and more of them in the basement. I 'm afraid you 
are not appreciated in France." 

In June Aldrich was back again in Ponkapog; and "The 
Stillwater Tragedy" was finished early in 1880, and began 
its course in the "Atlantic." After its completion he al- 
lowed himself a breathing-space of several months, writing 


little save for a poem or two, and numerous letters. The 
following to Stedman is evidence of the growing down- 
rightness of his views on literary matters : — 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Nov. 20, 1880. 
My dear Edmund, — ... You seemed to think that 
I was going to take exception to your paper on Walt Whit- 
man. It was all admirably said, and my own opinion did 
not run away from yours at any important point. I place 
less value than you do on the indorsement of Swinburne, 
Rossetti and Co., inasmuch as they have also indorsed the 

very poor paper of . If Whitman had been able (he 

was not able, for he tried it and failed) to put his thought 
into artistic verse, he would have attracted little or no at- 
tention, perhaps. Where he is fine, he is fine in precisely 
the way of conventional poets. The greater bulk of his 
writing is neither prose nor verse, and certainly it is not an 
improvement on either. A glorious line now and then, and 
a striking bit of color here and there, do not constitute a 
poet — especially a poet for the People, There never was 
a poet so calculated to please a very few. As you say, he 
will probably be hereafter exhumed and anatomized by 
learned surgeons — who prefer a subject with thin shoulder- 
blades or some abnormal organ to a well-regulated corpse. 
But he will never be regarded in the same light as Villon. 
Villon spoke in the tone and language of his own period : 
what is quaint or fantastic to us was natural to him. He 
was a master of versification. Whitman's manner is a hoi- 


low affectation, and represents neither the man nor the 
time. As the voice of the 19th century, he will have little 
significance in the 21st. That he will outlast the majority 
of his contemporaries, I have n't the faintest doubt — but 
it will be in a glass case or a quart of spirits in an anatomi- 
cal museum. While we are on the topic of poetry, and I Ve 
the space to say it, I want to tell you that I thought the 
poem on Gifford exquisite, particularly the second division. 
The blank verse was wholly your own, "not Lancelot's 
nor another's" — as mine always is. . . . 

I am curious to see your review of Mrs. Fields's "Under 
the Olive." Here 's a New England woman blowing very 
sweet breath through Pandean pipes! What unexpected 
antique music to come up from Manchester-by-the-Sea ! 
I admire it all greatly, as a reproduction. Mrs. Fields's 
work in this represents only her intellect and its training : 
I don't find her personality anywhere. The joys and sor- 
rows she sings are our own to-day, but she presents them 
in such a manner as to make them seem aside from our 
experience. To my thinking a single drop of pure Yankee 
blood is richer than a thousand urnfuls of Greek dust. At 
the same time, I like a cinerary urn on the corner of my 
mantel-shelf, for decoration. This is the narrow view of a 
man who does n't know Greek literature except through 
translation. . . . Her poem must have interested you 
vastly. It is the most remarkable volume of verse ever 
printed by an American woman. Don't you think so? 
Your review will answer me. While we are on marbleized 
classical subjects, let me beg you to read my sketch of 


"Smith" in the January number of the ''Atlantic." Plu- 
tarch beaten on his own ground ! 

With our love, T. B. Aldrich. 

Stedman seems to have returned to the charge, for a 
week later we find Aldrich writing to him : " I do not see 
but we agree perfectly on Whitman. My estimate of him 
was based, not, as you seem half to suspect, on the recollec- 
tion of his early barbaric yawps, but on a careful study of 
his complete works. Awhile ago I invested ten dollars in 
two solid volumes which I should be glad to let any enthu- 
siastic Whitmaniac have at a very handsome reduction. I 
admire his color and epithets and lyrical outbreaks when 
I can forget the affectation which underlies it all. There 
was something large and sunny in Wordsworth's egotism. 
There is something unutterably despicable in a man writ- 
ing newspaper puffs of himself. I don't believe a charlatan 
can be a great poet. I could n't believe it if I were con- 
vinced of it!" 

With the beginning of 1881 came another event that 
marked an epoch in the smooth-flowing stream of Aldrich's 
life. Mr. Howells, who as assistant editor and editor had 
wielded the trident of the ruler of the "Atlantic" for fifteen 
years, wearied a little of the toil and resigned his post. 
Immediately thereupon the natural thing happened, and 
our poet, who had long before won his editorial spurs, and 
who had been for a score of years one of the " Atlantic's " 
most important contributors, was appointed to fill that dis- 
tinguished "seat of the scorner." 



IT was in the February of 1881 that the arrangement 
was made for Aldrich to succeed Mr. Howells in the 
editorial chair of the "Atlantic." On the twentieth of the 
month he wrote to Stedman : — 

"I wanted to write to you — but *Good God!' as Mr. 
Samuel Pepys says. Between the 'Atlantic Monthly' busi- 
ness and the storming of my Charles Street house, where 
an unpaying tenant has intrenched himself and refuses to 
surrender, I have had my hands full. When I see you, as 
I hope to do next month in New York, I '11 give you the 
points of the situation. I have a very clear understanding 
of the responsibilities I have assumed in taking the editor- 
ship of the * Atlantic' I accepted the post only after 
making a thorough examination of my nerve and back- 
bone. I fancy I shall do very little writing in the magazine, 
at first. I intend to edit it. I am lost in admiration of 
Howells, who found time to be a novelist." 

Edit it he did, and though by a judicious conserving of 
his work he continued to appear before the public with a 
volume in nearly every year of his editorship, including in 
1885 the "Household" edition of his "complete" poetical 


works, he actually wrote little, save for a few poems in 
lighter vein, and a group of important pieces of the elegiac 
kind, called forth by the death of Garfield, and of Wendell 
Phillips, and by the seventieth birthday of Tennyson. 
Prose he wrote at this time still more sparingly. He did a 
few critical articles for the "Atlantic," but that was all; 
and the life of his old chief, N. P. Willis, which he was 
to have prepared for the American Men of Letters Series, 
was cheerfully given over to another hand. The story of 
the years between 1881 and 1890 is a story of winters of 
editorial routine and of summers of travel. 

Even in his editorial ofiQce Aldrich contrived to surround 
himself with the homelike comfort to which he was accus- 
tomed. He chose for his purpose a little back room at 
No. 4 Park Street, reached by a spiral stairway much 
resembling the pictures of Dante's Purgatorio with the 
terrestrial Paradise at its summit. Its windows overlooked 
that haunt of ancient peace, the Old Granary Burying- 
Ground, where, as he liked to say, lay those who would 
never submit any more manuscript. But any melancholy 
that might have arisen from the scenery was mitigated by an 
open fire of cannel coal, by a pipe, — an engine which had 
not hitherto been in favor in that office, but which was 
expressly nominated in the bond between the editor and 
his publisher, — and by the constant attendance of his set- 
ter, " Trip." Once when Trip ate a sonnet, Aldrich asked, 
"How did he know it was doggerel?" 

Of the daily work in the office the present writer is for- 


tunate in being able to present an account by the hand of 
Miss S. M. Francis, Aldrich's assistant for the nine years 
of his editorship, who has known the ways of many editors 
of the "Atlantic": — 

" The routine of the office was simple enough. The prose 
manuscripts were read, sifted, commented on, and all with 
the smallest degree of merit placed in a drawer which 
quickly became over-full, waiting for the editor^s examina- 
tion on a clearing-up day, of uncertain date, when he 
energetically went through the mass, and laid aside a few 
for further consideration. These did not usually wait long, 
for as an editor Mr. Aldrich lived from hand to mouth, 
the box in which accepted manuscripts were kept was never 
very full, was often half-empty. He had an unwiUingness 
to accumulate copy — for which much might be said — as 
well as a fastidious taste, and was not unfrequently a soli- 
citor for articles. Sometimes destitution seemed to stare 
him in the face, but with his usual good fortune things 
altogether desirable arrived at the last moment, and the 
supply never failed. The poetry I never read, as he wished 
to see all that came, and his reading was certainly quite 
sufficient. His judgment in the case of verse was very 
quick and very sure, even the single felicity of phrase or 
graceful thought in a poor poem never escaped his notice. 
His standard of what ' Atlantic ' verse should be was high 
and not often to be attained to, but he came as near to it as 
circumstances allowed and never accepted poems lightly 
or unadvisedly. In the matter of short stories he was 


nearly as critical, while a slovenly or careless style in any 
sort of article would almost obscure whatever other merit 
the paper might possess. He was, however, very fair- 
minded towards articles treating of subjects which did not 
appeal to his personal tastes, if the writers thereof were 
clear-headed and had a reasonable amount of literary 

"It is pleasant to remember his appreciation of papers 
of a distinct literary quality, — those from Mr. Woodberry 
and Miss Preston, to mention but two of what might be 
called his regular staff, and the too few articles of Mrs. 
Wister's. In Mr. Sill he found the ideal contributor for an 
easy-going editor. This modest gentleman used to send 
little essays of admirable pith and point to brighten the 
Contributors' Club, a half-a-dozen at a time, with usually 
a poem or two accompanying them. They were always 
sure to be acceptable, they were never inquired after by the 
author, who when the time came read his proofs to perfec- 
tion, and sent more equally good copy. Well do I remem- 
ber the heavy sense of loss when, with his latest papers 
in our hands, the news came of his death. Less tranquil, 
but still more interesting and stimulating, was the constant 
intercourse with that accomplished Shakespearean, mu- 
sical amateur, student of English, and man of letters, Mr. 
Richard Grant White. There was always a touch of 
exhilaration and pleasant anticipation in opening a new 
manuscript from him, and as he wrote on subjects of which 
he knew much, invariably had the courage of his convic- 


tions, and was at once exceedingly well-bred and exceed- 
ingly sensitive, emendations of any sort had to be as care- 
fully brought about as might be. When I think of the 
regular contributors, of the faithful survivors of the Old 
Guard, and of the writers then in their prime or beginning 
their work, I can see much justification for Mr. Aldrich's 
calm belief that excellent copy would come with each new 

" To work with him was usually a most agreeable experi- 
ence, but, as to accomplishment, it had its disadvantages. 
It was likely to remind him of something much more inter- 
esting. Some bit of autobiography, oftenest an anecdote 
of his early life, which led to another and yet another. Ah, 
if it could be possible to put that desultory talk, vivid narra- 
tion, scintillating humor, into cold type, it would leave any 
tale he ever told with pen and ink far behind ! He was hap- 
pily so circumstanced as to regard work and the various 
complications attending it, with a cheerful detachment not 
possible to the ordinary toiler. Of the domestic tribulations 
incident to the life of the usual householder in this ill-served 
land, he, as he always declared, practically knew nothing. 
No perplexities or annoyances of the kind were allowed to 
disturb his well-ordered home life, wherein again he was 

Despite the happy ease with which Aldrich took his 
editorial work, he had, like other editors, his moments of 
weariness and discouragement; witness this from a letter 
to Stedman, written from Ponkapog in the fall of 1881 : — 


"I am nearly dead with the details of.ofi&ce-work, and 
have run off to the old Indian Farm to bind up some 
wounds in the mind. Leaving out Sundays, and my trip to 
New York, I have not had a day's vacation since the first 
of last March. No, I have n't a novel or anything in hand, 
except a lyric or two which I shall print in ' Harper's Maga- 
zine.' I shall not print any of my verses in the ' Atlantic' 
No man shall say that I crowded him out and put myself 
in. I find it devilish difficult to get good poems for the 
Maga. Our old singers have pretty much lost their voices, 
and the new singers are so few ! My ear has not caught any 
new note since i860. By Jove ! I wish there were a nest of 
young birds in full song now! I don't call you a young 
bird. You are the only one of our day and generation who 
is doing anything at present. In your letter you speak of 
having written two poems. I wish you 'd send them to me. 
I am slowly making up my mind to publish none but incon- 
testably fine poems in the * Atlantic ' — which means only 
about four poems per year. What do you think of that 
plan ? If you could see the piles of bosh sent to this office 
you'd be sick at heart." 

But whatever were his alternations of mood and easy- 
going methods, Aldrich made an excellent magazine for the 
lettered reader. Under his conduct the "Atlantic " attained 
a notable unity of tone and distinction of style. A little less 
accessible to new and unknown talent than Mr. Howells 
had been, he was yet quick to perceive the note of distinc- 
tion, and few of his swans turned out geese. He was not a 


militant editor, and was not greatly concerned about poli- 
tics and affairs. His interest was first and always Litera- 
ture, and perhaps no editor of the "Atlantic" has printed 
more of it. During his tenure of office the afterglow of the 
great day of New England literature was fading, but fading 
slowly. He could count on occasional poems from Long- 
fellow, Holmes, Whittier, and Lowell, to say nothing of the 
younger group headed by Sill. He had Park man and 
Fiske for historical papers, James, Helen Hunt Jackson, 
Miss Murfree, Mrs. Oliphant, Marion Crawford, Miss 
Jewett, and the two Hardys, American and English, for 
fiction. He developed the critical department of the maga- 
zine to a high degree of competence by marshalling what 
has seldom been seen in this country, a thoroughly com- 
pact and capable coterie of critical reviewers. This group, 
which was composed of Richard Grant White, G. E. 
Woodberry, George Parsons Lathrop, Horace Scudder, and 
Miss Harriet Waters Preston, contributed a surprisingly 
large proportion of the material that is embodied in the 
score of volumes of his editing. Read to-day, after the 
lapse of twenty years, it is still remarkable for penetration 
of insight and felicity of expression. It was under Aldrich, 
too, that the " Atlantic " won its international reputation as 
being, in the phrase of an English review, " the best edited 
magazine in the English language." To his fastidious sense 
of phrase and syntax, reading proof was a sacrament. If he 
habitually delegated the celebration of it to his assistant, 
his interest in the result was none the less keen, and it fared 


ill with any split infinitive or suspended nominative — even 
with such seemingly innocent locutions as "several peo- 
ple" — that fell under his searching eye. 

The editorial letters that Aldrich wrote out in his beauti- 
ful round hand are models of terse and luminous expres- 
sion, and many of his younger writers remember their help- 
fulness with sincere gratitude. With all his contributors, 
both known and unknown, he was something of a martinet, 
particularly in the matter of the pruning away of longueurs; 
but both classes soon came to trust his editorial acumen 
and literary craftsmanship. The books in which his corre- 
spondence was copied are fruitful reading for the magazine 
writer, professional or amateur. 

They contain, too, occasional arresting expressions of 
personal opinion. Take, for a single instance, this note, 
returning a sonnet to a would-be contributor personally 
unknown to him : — 

April 26, 1887. 

Dear Madam, — Though I think this a good sonnet, I 
do not retain it, for the reason that I have on hand more 
poems in that unpopular form than I can conveniently use. 
The sonnet is essentially a poet's poem ; I don't believe that 
the general reader cares for it. 

Your sonnet is very carefully built, and the construction 
afforded me pleasure ; but while reading the lines I won- 
dered if we writers of verse did not give the public credit for 
more interest in our purely personal emotions than really 
exists. Why should we print in a magazine those intimate 


revelations which we would n't dream of confiding to the 
bosom of an utter stranger at an evening party ? In what 
respect does the stranger differ from the public which we 
are so ready to take into our inmost confidence ? The reflec- 
tion was not new to me, however : it has saved me from 
writing many a verse that could by no chance have been of 
the slightest interest to the general public. I trust, dear 
madam, that you will not think that I write at this length 
whenever I decline to print a sonnet ! 

Yours very respectfully, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

Not the least interesting episodes of his work to Aldrich 
himself, with his whimsical humor and zest for idiosyn- 
crasy, were his encounters with the eccentric persons who 
besiege editorial offices with ingenious devices for squaring 
the literary circle. Among his papers is the following, writ- 
ten in a large formidable hand : — 

T. B. Aldrich, Editor of "The Atlantic Monthly," 
No. 4 Park Street, Boston ; Sir, — On the 24th day of 
February and again on the 7th inst. I gave you opportunity 
to apologize for the wilfully offensive manner in which you 
treated me in relation to my manuscript entitled "Shake- 
speare's Viola." 

You retained that manuscript nearly seven weeks. Then 
you returned it and expressed your regret that you could not 
accept it. 


That is to say, you intended to deceive me by the infer- 
ence that the manuscript was declined on its merits. 

The truth was and is you did not read it nor even open 
the package. Therefore you could not judge its merits nor 
say, with truth, that you regretted to decline it. 

You decline to apologize. 

My robust nature abhors your disgusting duplicity. You 
are a vulgar, unblushing Rascal and an impudent auda- 
cious Liar, 

Which I am prepared to maintain any where, any time. 
You ought to be publicly horsewhipped. Nothing would 
gratify me more than to give you a sounder thrashing than 
any you have yet received. 

Moreover, I am determined that the Literary Public shall 
know what a putrid scoundrel and Liar you are, 


Attached to this amazing document is a memorandum in 
Aldrich's leisurely script : — 

"The gentleman with the robust nature was politely 
invited to call at No. 4 Park Street on any day that week 
between 9 A. M. and 3 p. m., but * the robust nature ' failed 
to materialize." 

His whimsicality found another playground in his rela- 
tions with his fellow-workers, and is still a tradition in the 
office. Once when he was annoyed by too many interrup- 
tions from the lower office, he sprang up with the insouci- 
ance of a bad boy, — "but not such a very bad boy," — 


plugged the speaking tube with a cork and drove it in with 
the poker. On another occasion, his masterful publisher, 
Mr. Houghton, who had been submitting to the " Atlantic " 
the manuscripts of divers "friends of the house" with 
rather ill-success, said to him jocosely: "I have written a 
story and I'm going to send it to you under a fictitious 
name." " Then," said Aldrich, " I advise you to send it to a 
fictitious editor." 

The even tenor of Aldrich's Hfe through the eighties 
presents few themes for biographical expatiation. It was a 
placid, sun-kissed lake rather than a flowing river. In 1883 
he bought the beautiful, ample house at 59 Mount Vernon 
Street, which as time went on was to become a treasure- 
house of choice books, literary relics, autographs, and 
objects of art. There through the winters Aldrich, in his 
hours of ease in his study under the roof, read innumerable 
French and Spanish novels, or descended with cheerful 
reluctance to the drawing-room to play the perfect host 
to the visitors who thronged his hospitable portals. The 
summers he habitually spent in Europe, — in England, 
Russia, or Switzerland, — talking, reading, and, despite a 
profound aversion from "sight-seeing," gaining vivid im- 
pressions for future poems. 

In 1 88 1 he received the honorary degree of Master of 
Arts from Yale University, a well-merited academic recog- 
nition that gave him pleasure. Fifteen years later he was 
to receive a like honor from Harvard, and in the last year 


of his life the University of Pennsylvania conferred upon 
him the degree of Doctor of Laws. 

The relations with affairs which even the most belle- 
tristic editor cannot entirely avoid tended to keep per- 
manently alive Aldrich's political consciousness, which at 
other times was rather fitful in him. Two of his poems of 
deepest national feeling date from this period. On July 
2, 1881, he wrote to Stedman: "I have just returned 
from Boston, where I found your pleasant note. I made 
a flying visit to town this morning to lay in some rockets 
and champagne and ice cream and other explosives for 
the 4th. I no sooner set foot in the city than I was 
hurled back to that bewildering April morning in '65, 
when the news of Lincoln's assassination struck us all to 
the heart. Where were you that day? At first no one 
believed that Garfield had been shot. Up to the present 
moment we in peaceful Ponkapog know nothing of the 
result. (A whip-o'-will in the cherry-tree is driving me dis- 
tracted with his plaintive cry.) How far off from murder 
and the harm of the world we are here !" 

The tragic event made a deep impression on his imagina- 
tion, to which, after the death of the President, " The Bells 
at Midnight" bore eloquent testimony. Again, on the day 
after the death of Wendell Phillips in 1884, Aldrich's 
"Monody" was written at a single sitting, a most unusual 
thing with him. None of his poems is more thoroughly 
interfused with the larger ideality, or more admirably 
worked out in grave and noble poetic speech. Owing to the 



speed of its composition and the questionable propriety of 
its verse form, Aldrich himself had many misgivings about 
it, yet the piece is indubitably one of his best in its kind. 
Take the lines that celebrate the great New England 
group: — 

"Rich is the land, O Death! 
Can give you dead like our dead ! — 
Such as he from whose hand 
The magic web of romance 
Slipped, and the art was lostl 
Such as he who erewhile — 
The last of the Titan brood — 
With his thunder the Senate shook; 
Or he who, beside the Charles, 
Untouched of envy or hate, 
Tranced the world with his song; 
Or that other, that gray-eyed seer 
Who in pastoral Concord ways 
With Plato and Hafiz walked." 

How sure and telling the accent ! Other notable poems of 
the period of his editorship were "The Sailing of the 
Autocrat," written in 1886, "The Last Caesar," done in 
1887, and the magnificent eulogy of Tennyson, composed 

Aldrich's editorial experience with the "Atlantic" had 
the effect of refining still further his shrewd and candid 
critical judgment, and among the rather meagre survivals 
of his correspondence of these years are several letters that 
contain critical pronouncements of the first interest. Take 
as a fijTst example this to Stedman concerning Holmes : — 


" I think you are right about Holmes being in and out of 
fashion. His lyrics were at first very popular ; theji there 
came a time — between 1847 and 1857 — when his bright 
work was rather overshadowed by a different kind — that 
of Longfellow and Whittier. The poems in the * Autocrat' 
brought Holmes to the front again. After a while he lost 
ground, it seems to me. He wrote too many class-day 
verses : they had an instant, local success, but they be- 
longed, as our friend Henry James would say, to the paro- 
chial school of poetry. The verse that pleases merely a 
set does n't last like the verse that impresses a solitary 
reader here and there. Strictly speaking, Holmes's poems 
are not as popular to-day as they were ten years ago. 
Nothing is forgotten as quickly as the stanza that makes 
us laugh, and nothing is remembered so long as the 
stanza that makes us think or makes us feel. Holmes has 
written very few of the latter sort. Those few are nearly 
perfect, but they don't appeal to his general audience. I 
can't imagine how he will stand by and by. At present 
his personality is a tower of strength." 

A little later he wrote again to Stedman concerning an 
admirable paper that the latter had been writing on " The 
Twilight of the Poets" : — 

"If you live to be two hundred years old — and I 
should like to catch you at it ! — you will not find a more 
difl&cult task than the one which you set yourself in the 
September ' Century,' nor be able to accomplish it more 
skilfully. I wonder how you dared to handle such a lot 


of exposed poetic nerves! Yet you touched each with 
such inspired tact that I can't imagine a single quiver in 
the whole bunch. With regard to the passage which you 
so kindly devoted to me, I shall say to you what I said to 
a photographer yesterday, 'Am I as good-looking as all 
that?' One generally goes down to the grave without 
any very accurate idea of one's own profile. ' The Twi- 
light of the Poets' — the title by itself is worth $50 — must 
have cost you immense labor. How on earth did you get 
all these people together? Three or four of them were 
total strangers to me, and to a wise man here who sup- 
posed that he knew everybody. It is a notable paper, and 
if it errs anywhere it errs on the side of geniality — wisely, 

perhaps, yet I wish you had left out , who is simply 

a crank. The essay is very carefully built, and I find 
only two or three details to which I could take exception. 
One of them would be the coupling of ' Songs of Sum- 
mer' with 'The Raven, and Other Poems' (page 794). 
In point of significance they are millions of miles apart. 
Then I think it is a good thing for a man to know his 
own limitations. The possession of that knowledge is in 
itself a kind of genius : the possessor will go far — because 
he will go in his own direction. If he's a round man he 
won't spend half his life in attempting to get himself into 
a square hole ; he won't write epics when God intended 
him to write lyrics. A poet doesn't 'reach the heights' 
by a chance jump. What you say about over-elaboration 
is admirable. That is bad technique. The things that 


have come down to us, the things that have lasted^ are 
perfect in form. I believe that many a fine thought has 
perished being inadequately expressed, and I know that 
many a Kght fancy is immortal because of its perfect 
wording. Moreover, I have a theory that poor material 
is incapable of the highest finish. You can't make even 
statuettes out of butter." 

But perhaps the most characteristic of all the critical 
paragraphs in the letters of these years is this to Colonel 
T". W. Higginson concerning the battle bard, Henry Howard 
Brownell, a poet of whom Aldrich was one of the earliest 
and sincerest admirers : *' I am sorry that you did not men- 
tion Brownell in your interesting paper concerning High- 
Water Marks. He is really the only poet produced by the 
War. His mother was Rebellion and his father Loyalty. 
Our other singers had earlier and gentler parentage. The 
flame in his verse was lighted at the mouth of the Hart- 
ford cannon. He has two or three poems, to have written 
which seems to me nearly as fine a thing as to have captured 
two or three towns. I don't agree with you on the value of 
contemporary criticism — excepting when it is mine ! Not 
a man in England saw how fine a poet Keats was, save 
Hunt and Shelley (after Keats was dead) and one or two 
other persons who were laughed at. Contemporary criti- 
cism is apt to get its own conceit in its eye ; but I do think 
that when the American verse of to-day comes to be sifted 
in 1990, there will be found in the sieve a great many grains 
of gold from Brownell's mine. Possibly we may in a way 


be permitted to know about it ; in which case I will remind 
you of my prophecy later!" 

In the summer of 1885 Aldrich spent several weeks on 
a cruise along the New England coast, on the Oneida, 
the yacht of Mr. E. C. Benedict. Others of the party were 
Booth, Barrett, Parke Godwin, and Laurence Hutton. 
Writing home to his daughter, Booth said : "Aldrich is kept 
at a white heat of fun by Hutton"; and about the same 
time Mark Twain was telling a Parisian interviewer: 
"Thomas Bailey Aldrich has said fifteen hundred if not 
fifteen thousand things as brilliant as the things Talleyrand 
said, which are labelled ' French Wit.' " It was, in short, 
during the period of his " Atlantic " editorship that Aldrich 
gained his national reputation as a wit. All his life long he 
had been uttering good things as copious and unconcerned 
as the bubbles that rise in an effervescent spring, but now 
he was a little nearer the footlights, and his sayings began 
to be more widely repeated. He ceased to be a neighbor- 
hood wit nke Tom Appleton or John Holmes, and men 
began to tell of his whimsicalities at the clubs of New York 
and the dinner tables of Washington. 

It is difficult to do adequate justice to the quality of 
Aldrich's wit by reporting his tersely turned witticisms. 
When the "North American Review" suddenly reduced its 
thickness by one half, he said : "It looks as if destiny had 
sat on it" ; but to savor the full zest of the whimsicality we 
should have had to see the fine air, the charming half- pi eased, 
half-deprecatory toss of the head with which it was carried 


off. A great source of his wit lay in the humorous preju- 
dices of which he had a vast supply. Could he find a digni- 
fied and pretentious person holding fast some of the ideas 
he himself specially disliked, he was at his best. He would 
literally — as Leigh Hunt said Lamb would have done to 
Johnson — " pelt him with pearls." To the very end of his 
life one of the chief charms of his good things lay in a cer- 
tain boyish blurting of them out; and one of the most 
engaging qualities of his humor was a certain happy im- 
pudence. He delighted to tell of his experience in getting 
his name reinstated in the voting Hst of Boston after an 
absence of a year or two from his Mount Vernon Street 
home : appearing before a minor magistrate of the race that, 
as Lowell said, " fought all our battles and got up all our 
draft riots," he was asked his name and occupation, and if 
he could read. Modestly admitting that he could " a little," 
he was given the Declaration of Independence and told to 
"Read thot." "Begorra!" said Aldrich, "I will. 'Whin 
in the coorse of human ivints — ' " He was incontinently 
allowed to register. 

Another time he soberly asked the telescope man on 
Boston Common, who draws a living from star-gazing Bos- 
tonians, whether Venus were "naked to the \dsible eye." 
The owner of the "ingenious perspicall" twice assured him 
that she was, before the light broke on him. 

Once, when Holmes was giving a dinner in honor of 
Matthew Arnold, the "Little Doctor," himself a wit of 
international acclaim, set the conversational ball rolling by 


asking the various guests, in his humoroiisly hectoring 
manner, what they would do in certain dire contingencies : 
if they were to encounter a pirate in the Back Bay, etc., etc. 
Each time Holmes capped the answer with a better one, 
till he came to Aldrich. 

"Aldrich," said he, "what would you do if one day on 
Mount Vernon Street you were to meet a cannibal?" 

"Why," said Aldrich, "I should stop and pick an 

At another dinner, in honor of Lord Houghton, Aldrich 
chanced to be seated beside the chief guest, and, presently, 
he noticed that Houghton had mislaid his napkin and 
was vainly looking for it. Aldrich, observing that it had 
fallen to the floor, picked it up and restored it to the noble 
bard, quoting, as he did so, two lines from one of his lord- 
ship's poems : — 

" A man's best things are nearest him — 
Lie close about his feet." 

Perhaps the most telling feature of Aldrich's humor was 
its marvellous readiness. Coming home late one night, he 
noticed a light still burning in the study of Booth's house on 
Chestnut Street. Approaching a window, he tapped lightly 
on the pane; no response. Again he tapped: suddenly 
the door sprang open and out rushed the tragedian, hair 
rumpled and eyes wild, a navy revolver, at full cock, in his 

"Hello, Ned," said Aldrich, "going hunting? I'll lend 
you Trip." 


Often his wit had at once a classic precision of form, a 
core of sound sense, and a saucy disrespectfulness that were 
to the last degree telling. A friend once remarked to him 
that a certain eminent and indefatigable laborer in the field 
of letters was a very learned man. 

"Yes," said Aldrich, "a very learned man, but like a 
gas-pipe, no richer for the illumination he has conveyed." 

We have had numerous witty men given to a more rol- 
licking humor, but scarcely another so choicely gifted in 
oral phrase, so airy and nimble in fancy, so happily and 
continuously witty through all his waking hours. There 
was no exaggeration in what Mark Twain has written of 
him : *' Aldrich was always brilliant, he could n't help it ; he 
is a fire-opal set round with rose diamonds ; when he is not 
speaking, you know that his dainty fancies are twinkling 
and glimmering around in him; when he speaks, the dia- 
monds flash." 

In the spring of 1890, after nine years in the editorial 
chair, Aldrich concluded that the time had come to enjoy 
a larger leisure. Resigning the post permanently to 
Horace Scudder, who had often occupied it during his 
summers in Europe, he sailed for the East, free of all ties ; 
and manuscripts and "make-up" troubled him no more. 



I 890-1 900 

NOT long after his release from the "Atlantic" Aldrich 
wrote in the postscript of a friendly letter, "What a 
blessed relief it is not to make a hundred bitter enemies per 
month by declining MSS. I am so happy these days that I 
sometimes half suspect some calamity lurking round the 
corner." The calamity was to be long deferred. The death 
of many of his friends of old time brought him hours of 
sorrow, and made him aware, as he many times writes in 
his correspondence, "What a slight hold we have on this 
revolving globe." Yet the years from 1890 to 1900 were 
perhaps the happiest of his life. They passed in a bland 
and mellow light as of a land where it seemed always 

The memorabilia of these years are few. The Aldriches 
were abroad in the summers of 1890, 1891, and 1892. In 
the summer of 1893 they built "The Crags" at Tenant's 
Harbor on the Maine coast, a summer place that the poet 
came to be immensely fond of. In the winter of 1894-95 
they went around the world. In the winter of 1898-99 
they went again around the world ; and they were in Europe 
in the summer of 1900. Despite this far-darting travel and 


the zest with which he enjoyed his leisure, Aldrich's pen 
was far from idle. He wrote numerous short stories, and 
though he was continually affirming that he had written his 
last poem, the impulse was as continually revisiting him. 
These years saw the composition of such poems as " Elm- 
wood," "Unguarded Gates," "Santo Domingo," and the 
"Shaw Memorial Ode." They saw, too, the successful 
stage production of his drama " Mercedes," and the publi- 
cation of five new books of verse and two of prose, as well 
as the appearance in 1896 of his collected works in eight 
compact volumes. 

In 1897, Henry L. Pierce, Aldrich's close friend for many 
years, — 

" Decus columenque rerum," — 

died in the house at 59 Mount Vernon Street, which had 
been as another home to him. By his will the bulk of his 
large estate was disposed among various important public 
benefactions, though a considerable legacy was left to each 
member of the Aldrich family. 

These are all the facts that the annalist need record of 
this ten-year period. Throughout it Aldrich wrote more 
numerous and more notable letters than in any other period 
of his life. A selected series of them will faithfully reveal the 
nature of his occupations and opinions in these years, and 
the succession of his moods through the seasons. This 
chapter, then, shall be a chapter of autobiography. 


To G. E, Woodherry 

Hotel Royal, 
Constantinople, July 22, 1890. 

Dear Woodberry, — Christian, having thrown off his 
burden and quitted "the shop" forever, is walking in the 
streets of the City Beautiful. He unwinds the turban of 
care from his brow and sits down by the fountains of 
delight. . . . The bazaars in the early morning, cooling 
drinks and many-colored ices at noon-day, and afternoon 
dreams on the Bosphorus leave his mind smooth for his 
nightly divan. The life and color of the streets, — the 
grand vizier riding by on his milk-white mare and only just 
not stepping on the curled-up toes of the professional crip- 
ple on the curbstone — the mosques, the markets, and the 
minarets — all this Orient business goes straight to the 
heart of your friend, who will return to his own uncivilized 
land in October loaded to the muzzle with magazine papers 
of the most delightful novelty at the very highest prices. 
Meanwhile he has begged his friend Jacob, the seller of 
sweet waters, to drop this missive into the post across the 
street in order that you may be assured that you still live in 
the memory of 

Your faithful 

Thomas Ben-Aldrich. 


To Frank Dempster Sherman 

59 Mount Vernon Street, 
Nov. 13, 1890. 

Dear Mr. Sherman, — I think the little book * very 
charming inside and out. I find two especially hopeful 
signs in the volume — ist, it is an artistic advance on your 
previous collection of lyrics ; and, 2d, it is not morbid. The 
verse throughout is wholesome and happy, with a riant air 
about it — 

"as when a Grace 
Sprinkles another's laughing face 
With nectar, and runs on." 

Graver moods will come by and by : in expressing them 
seek to retain the same hopeful atmosphere. That may be 
done even in tragedy. The finest sort of tragedy — that 
means Shakespeare's — never depresses one. I believe in 
printing only a few verses at a time, as you do. Small books 
get themselves read, and stand a chance of getting liked if 
they are good. How wise Longfellow was 1 His earliest and 
best fame was made by volumes of one hundred pages or 
so. To leave the reader wanting more is art ; to give him as 
much as he can hold is stupid. I have read "Lyrics for a 
Lute" twice, from alpha to omega. If it had been four hun- 
dred pages ? So, stick to brief collections. I have won and 
kept my few readers by not surfeiting them. In February 
next I shall serve them out another round of starvation 
^ Lyrics for a Lute. 


rations. If I miss sending this handful of rhyme to you — I 
may be absent from home at the moment of publication — 
please touch my memory with your pen's point. 

Yours very cordially, T. B. Aldrich. 

To the Same 

London, July 5, 1891. 

My dear Mr. Sherman, — The pages of your article * 
came to me so late on the night before I sailed as to leave 
me only a few minutes to run through them and remail 
them to the " Century" folk. So I question whether I have 
an adequate impression of your paper, except so far as its 
appreciation. I was rather sorry that you gave so much 
consideration to two poems which in future will find no 
place among my writings — I mean the Sherry song and 
the sonnet " By the Potomac." ... In brief, the deepest 
impression I retain from my hasty reading of your essay is 
its kindness to my verse which might with justice have been 
treated very unkindly. I like my poems less than you do, 
for I know better than you how far they fall short of my 
intentions. To do the largest sort of work within one's own 
limits is a proper ambition, and that was mine. Only in the 
rarest instances have I approached my desire. I have five 
or six lyrics and one poem which indicate what I wanted to 
do. I shall have to be measured by them, if I am measured 
at all. I can add nothing to their quality, and you are wrong 
in regarding me as a promising poet, for I have done my 
* See the Century Magazine for September, 1891. 


best and do not intend to repeat myself. I promise nothing 
whatever in the future. I mean to take mine ease at mine 
inn. I would rather be in Westminster Abbey (alive !) than 
write about it. I mean to travel, and read, and dine, and 
write prose when I write. Experience teaches a man Httle 
in poetry, but it gives him endless themes for short stories. 
So I shall probably build no more Wyndham Towers, but 
construct blocks of brown-stone English basement houses 
and let them out to realistic families ! . . . 
Ever very sincerely yours, 

T. B. Aldeich. 

To G. E, Woodberry 

Under the Leads, 
59 Mt. Vernon St., Oct. i6, 1891. 

Dear Woodberry, — I have thought of you lots of times 
since I reached home, but just the mood to drop you a line 
has n't come along until now. How is it with you ? Do you 
like your professor's robes? I picture you in long black 
skirts and skull-cap with the square Oxford top, delivering 
lectures to young New York and advising them to read 
Aldrich's poems. You could n't do less — nor they either ! 

This reminds me to say that I have written a poem of 
one hundred lines or so, on Lowell. I hope you will like it 
when you see it in one of the December magazines. One 
verse I am sure you will like — 

" Himself a bondman till all men were free." . . . 

Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, — my dear little dog Trip is 


dead. To think that so many bitter men and women are 
let live, and this faithful, gentle, blithe little spirit blotted 
All else is well with me and mine. 

Ever yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To the Same 

Dans un grenier, Nov. 18, 1891. 

My dear Woodberry, — Here are some poems for you 
to read and send back to me without letting anyone lay eye 
or ear on them. If you were not sincere in lamenting your 
separation from my verse you have brought the punish- 
ment down on you with your own hands. If you don't find 
"Insomnia" grotesque, and the *'Two Moods" thought- 
ful, and the " Sonnet" striking — then you shall have your 
money returned to you at the door. ... 

These are flush times with me. I write some verse every 
day, and have already half enough matter to make a vol- 
ume of the size of my last. Maybe these are my swan- 
songs! . . . 

Dear old Booth, I 'm so sorry about hiin ! 

Trip is missed every day. 

Affectionately, T. B. A. 

To the Same 

Milton, May 14, 1892. 
Dear Woodberry, — This little realm — bounded on 
the North by ''Tamerlane," and on the South, East, and 


West by preparations for Europe — must seem to you a 
very contracted realm indeed, compared to the great wal- 
lowing sphere in which you live, move, and have your — 
salary. Nevertheless, I drop you a line from this dim 
spot of earth called Boston. A bloated bondholder with 
$1850 snatched that copy of "Tamerlane" away from me 
and I saw it go with tears in my eyes. I went home and 
wrote a misanthropic poem called "Unguarded Gates" 
(July "Atlantic" !), in which I mildly protest against Amer- 
ica becoming the cesspool of Europe. I *m much too late, 
however. I looked in on an anarchist meeting the other 
night, as I told you, and heard such things spoken by our 
"feller citizens" as made my cheek burn. These brutes are 
the spawn and natural result of the French Revolution; 
they don't want any government at all, they "want the 
earth" (like a man in a balloon) and chaos. My American- 
ism goes clean beyond yours. I believe in America for the 
Americans ; I believe in the widest freedom and the nar- 
rowest license, and I hold that jail-birds, professional mur- 
derers, amateur lepers (" moon-eyed" or otherwise), and hu- 
man gorillas generally should be closely questioned at our 
Gates. Or the "sifting" that was done of old will have to 
be done over again. A hundred and fifty years from now, 
Americans — if any Americans are left — will find them- 
selves being grilled for believing in God after their own 
fashion. As nearly as I can estimate it off-hand, there will 
be only five or six extant — the poor devils ! I pity them 
prospectively. They were a promising race, they had such 


good chances, but their politicians would coddle the worst 
elements for votes, and the newspapers would appeal to the 
slums for readers. The reins of government in all their 
great cities and towns slipped from the hands of the 
natives. A certain Arabian writer, called Rudyard Kip- 
ling, described exactly the government of every city and 
town in the (then) United States when he described that of 
New York as being " a despotism of the alien, by the alien, 
for the alien, tempered with occasional insurrections of 
decent folk." 

But to turn to important matters. I am having a bit of 
headstone made for Trip's grave at Ponkapog. The dear 
little fellow ! he had better manners and more intelligence 
than half the persons you meet '* on the platform of a West- 
End car." He was n't constantly getting drunk and falKng 
out of the windows of tenement houses, like Mrs. O'Flar- 
arty ; he was n't forever stabbing somebody in North Street. 
Why should he be dead, and these other creatures exhaust- 
ing the ozone? If he had written realistic novels and 
** poems" I could understand "the deep damnation of his 
taking off." In view of my own mature years I will not 
say that "they die early whom the gods love." . . . No. 59 
is to close its door on May 17, and we are to spend 
our time here and there, principally at Ponkapog, until 
the 13th of June, when we shall go to New York to sail 
on the 15th. . . . Mrs. T. B. is having a good time in turn- 
ing our house upside down, and making it no place for a 
Christian to write hundred-dollar lyrics in. She insisted 


on having my inkstand washed, and I got a temporary 
divorce. ... 

I've had no word from you for ages, and now I think of 
it, you don't deserve so long and instructive a letter as 
this, and so I'll end it. 

Affectionately yours, T. B. A. 

To Frank Dempster Sherman 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., May 29, 1892. 

My dear Mr. Sherman, — Your note found me among 
about forty millions of apple-blossoms. I 'm glad that you 
did n't come to Boston, since I was not to be there. I have 
written two or three poems which I wish could be printed 
before you commit your new indiscretion. In "A Shadow 
of the Night" and " Broken Music " I have touched one or 
two deeper chords than usual. However — O the sins of 
youth and inexperience ! they are heavier than the crimes of 
age. I would like to be young again just in order not to 
write those old verses in those old '* Knickerbockers." My 
Muse was really in its ** knickerbockers" in them days. 
Why does n't a poet have his art and his impulse all at 
once ? I often feel sorry for actresses, who are always too 
old to play Juliet by the time they have learned how to do 
it. I know how to play Hamlet and Romeo now, but my 
figure does n't fit the parts ! 

When you see Mr. Mabie give him my kindest re- 
gards. He has at various times, and among the earliest, 
said helpful things when I most needed encouragement. 


For twenty years to come poetry is going to have a rough 
voyage in this country. It will get wrecked on the rocks 
of materialism and neglect, if there is n't here and there 
along the coast a head-light, like Mabie. Those were Ar- 
cadian days when a volume of such gentle verse as "The 
Voices of the Night" could make a man famous! My 
paper 's out ! 

Affectionately yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To E, C. Stedman 

Boston, Oct. 8, 1892. 
My dear Edmund, — Thanks for your pleasant letter 
and its inclosures. The rumor that I am to accept a de- 
partment in " Harper's " is a rumor that has managed to fly 
far without any authentic wings. During twenty-five years 
of my literary life I have had a salaried position ; this has 
enabled me to leave untouched the small property I had 
from my father, and to save the income from my magazine 
writings and that of my copyrights. I am now in a com- 
fortable case ; neither rich nor poor, but quite independent 
of hack-work, and the lightest sort of editorial harness 
would gall me. Moreover, the man who undertakes a de- 
partment similar to Curtis's^ (Curtis cannot be replaced, 
only succeeded) should live in New York City and be in 
close touch with the great currents of life there. It would 

* During the temporary illness of Curtis in 1875 Aldrich had writ- 
ten the Easy Chair, — so skilfully that few readers had detected the 
change of hand. 


take a great deal more money than my poor services are 
worth to induce me to break up my home here. . . . 
Affectionately yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To H. W. Mabie 

59 Mount Vernon Street, 
Feb'y lo, 1893. 

My dear Mabie, — It would be a solid pleasure to me 
to run on to New York and dine with The Aldine Club * 
some evening next month ; but if it is a question of after- 
dinner speeches and personal fireworks generally, I shall 
have to think over the matter a little. I am not a public 
speaker, and so not worth my salt at a banquet where 
stand-up and give-and-take felicities are expected. In 
private I can be as injudicious as anybody ! I retired from 
our jolly Tavern Club because a fellow could n't eat his 
dinner there without the creepy dread of being "called 
upon." That he could n't properly say ten words did n't 
save him. Yet we don't invite a man who is not a musician 
to give us a solo on the cornet. Please drop me a word or 
two on this point. As dear old Joe Jefferson says, "I want 
to know where I am at." . . . 

Very sincerely your friend, T. B. Aldrich. 

^ This dinner at which Aldrich was the guest of honor occurred in 
due course. It is still remembered by those who were fortunate enough 
to be present at the most delightful of occasions. Aldrich for once 
broke his rule and made a speech — a speech, in Stedman's phrase, 
" More like Lowell and his after-dinner best than any of the others." 


To G. E. Woodberry 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., May 28, 1893. 

Dear Woodberry, — Fate seems to be cutting up with 
me just as she did last summer. All my tribe have been 
under the weather. On returning from New York (May 
6 or 7) I was laid up in bed with congestion of the lungs, 
and at the present time have been on my feet only ten days. 
Meanwhile the newspapers have been sending me to recep- 
tions and theatres, and on long journeys all over the United 
States. American newspapers are fearfully and wonderfully 
made. If about 20,000 of them could be suppressed the 
average decency of the world would be increased from 25 
to 50 per cent. 

I've been doing a lot of reading — gone back to Spanish 
and Carlyle's "Frederick the Great." I first read the work 
in Lowell's library when I lived at "Elmwood." The old 
days come back to me as I turn over the incoherent and 
explosive pages of the sour Thomas. . . . 

O, how lazy I am ! not so much as a couplet stirring in 
its shell. I am reading the proofs of a new and revised 
edition of ''Mercedes," and presently I shall have the 
proofs of my book of stories and ''An Old Town by the 
Sea" to correct. This will be my summer work. I don't 
expect ever to write anything more. Inkstand dried up, 
pen split, ideas gone. 

"Is this the cheek that launched a thousand lines 
And got 'em played at Palmer's Theatre?" 


No more at present from 

Yours affectionately, T. B. A. 

Is poor old Edwin to be taken to the seaside ? These are 
sad days for the dear boy and those who love him. 

To William Winter ^ 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 12, 1893. 
Dear Will, — We reached Mount Auburn a few min- 
utes before sunset. Just as Edwin was laid in the grave, 
among the fragrant pine-boughs which lined it, and soft- 
ened its cruelty, the sun went down. I never saw anything 
of such heart-breaking loveliness as this scene. There in 
the tender afterglow two or three hundred men and women 
stood silent, with bowed heads. A single bird, in a nest 
hidden somewhere near by, twittered from time to time. 
The soft June air, blowing across the upland, brought with 
it the scent of syringa blossoms from the slope below. Over- 
head and among the trees the twilight was gathering. 
"Goodnight, sweet Prince!" I said, under my breath, 
remembering your quotation. Then I thought of the years 
and years that had been made rich with his presence, and 
of the years that were to come, — for us not many, surely, 
— and if there had not been a crowd of people, I would 
have buried my face in the greensward and wept, as men 
may not do, and women may. And thus we left him. 

* Reprinted from The Life and Art of Edwin Booth, by William Win- 
ter. New York, The Macmillan Co. 1893. 

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Some day, when I come to New York, we must get to- 
gether in a corner at the Players, and talk about him — 
his sorrows and his genius and his gentle soul. 

Ever affectionately, Tom. 

To G. E. Woodberry 

Tenant's Harbor, Maine, 
Aug. 28, 1893. 

Dear Woodberry, — I give you twenty guesses at 
what I am up to. You '11 never guess it. I have found my 
ideal strip of seacoast and am building a bit of cottage — 
a cottage in Spain, so to speak, since Spain lies just in front 
of my proposed piazza. On the left stretch the Camden 
HiUs, twenty-five miles away. It is the wildest and loveliest 
wave-washed place I ever saw. Tenant's Harbor (my land 
lies outside of the entrance) is a diminutive port with a 
real custom-house, which does n't prevent it from being 
merely a little old-fashioned fishing-hamlet, primitive and 
quaint and unlike anything I know of. I am as happy and 
dirty as a clam, and enjoy every moment of my waking 
hours in watching the progress of my house, which is to be 
called "The Crags." . . . 

After this week I shall be at Ponkapog again, to wel- 
come my boys home. They are to sail for New York on 
Wednesday next. They have been absent four weeks. 
Mrs. T. B. and I have had a lazy, drifting summer of it, 
mostly by the ocean, and are as brown and hardy as ber- 
ries. I have written nothing, thank God,these four months. 


Next winter I shall probably be loaded to the muzzle with 
lyrics and sonnets. Meanwhile I am 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

To Laurence Hutton 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Oct. 31, 1893. 

Dear Laurence, — Of course I would a hundred times 
rather sojourn with your death-masks than stick myself 
up in that room at The Players, where memory never lets 
go its grip on me for a moment. . . . 

I have n't seen Winter's book yet. I did n't know that 
there were any words of mine in it. He must have quoted 
something from one of my letters. It was nothing I in- 
tended to be printed, of course. I hope it was not too 
intime, for I don't like to wear my heart on my sleeve. The 
more I feel, the less I say about it. . . . 

I've just been reading Lowell's letters. How good and 
how poor they are ! Nearly all of them are too self-con- 
scious. Emerson and Whittier are about the only men in 
that famous group who were not thinking about them- 
selves the whole while. They were too simple to pose, or 
to be intentionally brilliant. Emerson shed his silver like 
the moon, without knowing it. However, we all can't be 
great and modest at the same moment ! 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

Tell Mark that I love him just the same as if he 
had n't written successful books. 


To E. S. Morse 

Mt. Vernon St., Boston, April 16, 1894. 
My dear Morse, — There is no very good photograph 
or engraving of me. My peculiar beauty appears to be too 
many for the camera in its present undeveloped state. If 
I could get a dozen or twenty angels to sit with me, a 
fairly satisfactory composite photograph might be obtained. 
My personal appearance is so original and inexhaustible 
that I have a new expression every day. ... 

I inclose portraits of me in two ** states." Farther than 
this I cannot help you. 

Ever cordially yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To G. E, Woodherry 

PoNKAPOG, May 15, 1894. 

Dear Woodberry, — I have just got back from Ten- 
ant's Harbor and the inspection of my little cottage there. 
It is a delight, "with magic casements opening on the foam 
of perilous seas'' and looking straight across to Spain, 
where there is no end of first-class building material for a 
dreamer sitting on my front piazza. Come and see The 
Crags ! 

I am collecting and revising my later verse and shall 
have a book for next autumn. I am also trying to write a 
preface for "The Bad Boy," which is to be brought out in 
an entirely new edition with sixty delightful drawings by 
A. B. Frost. When not otherwise engaged I sit and smoke, 


and smile at the present Administration. . . . The best 
kind of Democracy (as per sample) is no better than the 
worst kind of Republicanism. The Income Tax is the de- 
formed child of Coxey and his brother scalawags. I vote 
for McKinley. We shall have bloody work in this country 
some of these days, when the lazy canaille get organized. 
They are the spawn of Santerre and Fouquier-Tinville. 
In about twenty years we shall bring out an American 
edition (illustrated with cuts) of the beautiful French 

Meanwhile I am in receipt of your package of books. 
Thanks — especially for the Booth. I have read your 
monody again. If I had five hundred copies of it I would 
read each one. It is a lovely poem. Do you know that 
you 've got a full line from brother Shakespeare among the 
closing verses? I'll tell you which line it is for lo cents — 
or a letter. . . . 

Yours during life, T. B. A, 



To Francis Bartlett 

Redman Farm, 
PoNKAPOG, Mass., Sept. 13, 1894. 

My dear Bartlett, — It has possibly not often oc- 
curred to you that 

3 years ago i 

Noy he now 
wears a curl 
on that fore- 
head ; and 
when he is 
^oody he is 
etc., etc. 
''good I » 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich goes often to 
New York, and is always the polite, if 
a little bored, victim of the interview- 
ers. He remembers the time, 30 years 
or more gone, when he was a working 
journalist himself. For that reason, 
perhaps, he is always ready to give an 
attentive ear to newspaper men. He is 
a good deal changed now from the elegant 
and rather dandified litterateur who 
used to edit the Atlantic Monthly. His 
a good~deal changed now from the elegant 
and rather dandified litterateur who 
used to edit the Atlantic Monthly. His 
clothes are cut as smartly as ever and 
are in the same exquisite taste, but the 
ends of his mustache are not tightly 
curled as of yore, nor is his^ hair plas- 
tered closely upon his forehead, as it 
used to be. The ends~of his mustache, 
minus their mandarinlike point, blow 
where the wind listeth, and his hair has 
an unstudied thrust in it, rather wildish 
for the author of the "Ballads of Babie 

Just why Aldrich should have main- 
tained in his personal appearance the 
impression given forth by his early 
poems, the ditties of love-lorn days, was 
always a good deal of a mystery to 
those who were acquainted with the vi- 
rility of his later poetry and the strong 
patient judgment he exercised in the 
editorship of the Atlantic. It was a bit 
of a foible. But now that it is gone, one 
is able to see what a finely moulded head 
his shoulders carry. 

Bis I 


But it was not in order to state these obvious facts that 
I took my pen in hand. Mrs. Aldrich wanted me to say to 
you that she had a charming little visit in .spite of her in- 
validism. She is better this morning, but her cough is still 
frequent enough to give me cause for just indignation. I 
don't put up with such things patiently. Dispensations of 
Providence can make me as mad as any other sort of im- 
position. ... 

Ever faithfully yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To his Sons 

Yokohama, Oct. 29, 1894. 
My dear Boys, — We arrived here this morning at 
nine o'clock after twelve wretched days, — a gale every 
day — the roughest voyage, the captain says, that the 
Empress of India has made in three years! Your little 
mother and I went to the table only once, and were on deck 
only twice. . . . The day before we sighted land your 
mother and I suddenly recovered, and had a heavenly 
twenty-four hours. I can't tell you how glad we were to 
get on shore. It was like getting into Paradise. Already 
that stormy ocean seems like a dream. This is the loveliest 
place we ever saw. The little houses are so funny, and the 
little men and women moving about the quaint streets 
look like figures from a chess-board. I never saw anything 
so curious as the streets. It is like being on the stage during 
a performance of the "Mikado." The little Jap girls are 
awfully pretty and do nothing but smile on us as they 


toddle by. We have had a delicious breakfast and a long 
ride about town in rikishas — - little two-wheeled wagons 
drawn each by a little Jap who trots just like a pony and 
seems never to get tired. The rikisha holds only one per- 
son, and costs 75c. per day ! A single course loc. It is per- 
fectly charming to ride in these toy carriages — they are set 
rather high, and I don't know what would happen if the 
horse were to stumble. All the people are very gentle and 
polite and soft-voiced. I think I should like to live in 
Japan. But we have n't begun to see the best of it yet. 
We are told that we shall fall wholly in love with Tokio, 
where we are to go in a few days in order to attend the 
yearly garden-party of the Emperor. I have written to 
our Ambassador to obtain an invitation. We don't hear 
much about the war. The Emperor doesn't allow cor- 
respondents to go with the army, so little or nothing is 
known about the battles until the government gives out 
the news. The harbor here is full of sunken torpedoes, 
and our ship had to be guided through them by a Jap- 
anese gunboat. We have been wishing all the morning 
that you two were with us, everything is so novel and fas- 
cinating. But you would n't have liked that sea- voyage. 
I would n't take it again for $5000. The Atlantic Ocean 
is an inland lake compared with the Pacific. The fellow 
who named it the Pacific was a heartless humorist. . . . 
Your mother and Miss have gone off in two riki- 
shas on a shopping excursion, and I must end this in or- 
der to run down to the pier and see the Empress of Japan 


start for Hong-Kong. We made some lovely friends 
aboard — a Major Faithful in command of an English 
regiment stationed at Hong-Kong, and two young English 
captains sent over here to study the war. . . . 

Your ever affectionate Father. 

To the Same 

ToKio, Japan, Nov. 7, 1894^ 
My dear Boys, — Since I wrote you from Yokohama 
we have been travelling in the interior of Japan. We have 
never been in a country so crowded with novelty — the 
people, the streets, the manners, and the very scenery are 
wholly unlike anything elsewhere. When we leave Japan 
at the end of this month I fancy that we shall have left 
behind us the best part of our journey. We are spending 
a week here and are having a delightful time. The night 
before last I went on a Japanese spree with a Mr. T. 
formerly of Boston, but now a permanent resident of Tokio, 
where he dwells with Yum-yum in grand style. He invited 
me to a theatre party — five or six pretty Japanese ladies 
and two masculine Japs, none of whom knew a word of 
English. But they were very charming and polite. I went 
to the theatre at six o'clock p. m. and witnessed the butt- 
end of a play that began at ten o'clock in the morning ! 
After the performance we took rikishas, each with its 
gaudy paper lantern, and started for the tea-house some 
two miles distant. The ride through the streets under 
strings and arcades of lanterns was a dream. I seemed to 


be wandering in fairy-land. At the tea-house little Jap- 
anese women removed our shoes and gave us slippers, for 
no one wears shoes within doors, where everybody sits on 
the floor. We were shown into a room made of large 
screens and carpeted with mats. The only furniture in this 
room was a nail, on which I hung my hat — neither table 
nor chair. The supper, which consisted of twelve elabo- 
rate courses, was served on trays placed on the floor. Such 
food — green and purple fish, and meat black and red, 
and straw-colored dishes composed of God knows what. 
Several of the things were delicious, but the rest were like 
unpleasant drugs. While the banquet was progressing 
three girls played on outlandish musical instruments and 
three other maidens in beautiful costumes recited poems 
and danced. The meal lasted two hours and a half, ending 
with sake, a strong native wine, and coffee. Then Yum- 
yum put on my shoes, bowed down before me with her 
forehead on the matting, and a few minutes later I was in 
my rikisha on the way through the lonely streets to our 
hotel. I did n't have a headache, which I richly deserved, 
the next morning. I should n't care to go to many such 
banquets, but it was well worth doing once. It was a genu- 
ine page out of the Arabian Nights. It is impossible to de- 
scribe the wonders we have seen — the temples, the gardens, 
and bazaars. On Friday, November 9, we return to Yoko- 
hama, from which there are several excursions to be made ; 
then we shall set out for Kobe, where we are to take ship 
for Hong-Kong. The treaty ports of China are said to be 


safe for Europeans, but the war fever increases as we go 
East, and I 'm afraid that we shall not be allowed to visit 
Canton, which is not a treaty port. However, we intend 
to try it. . . . 

Your affectionate Father. 

To the Same 

Hong-Kong, Dec. 9, 1894. 

My dear Boys, — We had a delightful voyage from 
Kobe to Hong-Kong, the sea being as smooth as Ponkapog 
Pond. At Shanghai we stopped long enough to have a 
ride through the town and take tiffin at a pastry shop. We 
have been here a week, seeing the sights and making ex- 
cursions. On Saturday last (this is Sunday) we went to 
Canton. It was not quite safe to do so on account of the 
pirates. They have a way of taking steerage passage at 
Hong-Kong, and then seizing the steamer when she gets 
out to sea. We had a large number of Chinese on the lower 
deck, and there was a sailor with a carbine at each gang- 
way to keep them down there. In the cabin on the upper 
deck were racks of Winchester rifles, loaded and ready for 
use. Nothing happened, however ; our preparations, per- 
haps, were too many for our shipmates, if they had any 
evil intentions. We left Hong-Kong in the evening and 
reached Canton the next morning. We spent the day there 
riding about the streets in rikishas, if they can be called 
streets, for they were only six or seven feet wide, and when 
two rikishas met it was close work to pass. We were fol- 


lowed everywhere by forty or fifty ruffians who now and 
then hooted at us, and towards the end of the afternoon 
began snapping pebbles and bits of stick at the rear rikisha, 
in which I had the happiness of being seated. The rikishas 
had to go in single file and I brought up the rear of the pro- 
cession. I was glad that we were not to pass the night in 
Canton with a million and a half of copper-colored devils. 
After an early dinner (on food brought with us) in the fifth 
story of a pagoda on the outskirts of the city (the crowd 
still keeping us company and pouncing on the remains of 
our meal), we went on board a little steamer which was to 
leave for Macao the next morning at 8 o'clock. There we 
slept in comfort and safety. The following night we spent 
at Macao, a very interesting town, belonging to Portugal, 
and reached Hong-Kong the next evening. I would n't 
have missed our excursion to Canton, but I should n't like 
to repeat it. It was the foulest-smelling, most overcrowded 
place I was ever in, but the little shops were packed with 
rich things, and your mother bought a lot of gorgeous em- 
broideries very cheap. Here, at Hong-Kong, we met with 
Major Faithful, whose acquaintance we made on the voy- 
age from Vancouver to Yokohama. He is in command of 
a regiment stationed across the bay. . . . To-morrow we 
are to sail for Ceylon in a German Lloyd steamer, and are 
preparing ourselves with pith hats and very thin clothing, 
for the weather will presently be as hot as Tophet — if 
that's the way to spell it. We shall have to sleep on the 
decks after we have been out two or three days. Unless we 


have a gale, not usual at this time of year, we shall have 
tranquil water and summer clouds. To this brief account 
of ourselves I can only add that we are all. in good health 
and spirits and are enjoying every hour of our journey. 
... At Ceylon we shall arrange for servants and bedding 
and food, for none of these things are furnished by hotels 
in India ! They merely supply you with rooms to sleep in, 
and you have to do the rest, like a kodak. The voyage 
from here to Colombo (look at the map) will take seven or 
eight days, with a stay of twenty-four hours at Singapore, 
which will be a pleasant break. There we shall strike the 
hottest of weather and I shall don my silk night-suit, which 
is splendid enough to keep the rest of the passengers awake 
all night ! Everybody will sleep (if he can) on deck, the 
cabins below being suffocating. I'm a picture in my mush- 
room pith hat and white shoes and the suit of clothes which 
I had built for me by a Japanese tailor at Yokohama ! — 
Major Faithful has just made his appearance, and I must 
end this with love to all. 

Your affectionate Father. 

To the Same 

Cairo, Feby. 8, 1895. 

My dear Boys, — At Cairo our faces are turned home- 
ward. It has been a long journey and one full of wonderful 
sights — Japan, China, Ceylon, India, and Egypt! All our 
sea-voyages, excepting that on the horrible Pacific, have 
been delightful, and in nearly every instance we have been 


half sorry to leave the ship. The twelve days' voyage from 
Colombo to Calcutta was made up of blue skies and moon- 
light and seas of glass. After quitting Ceylon I did n't ex- 
pect to see much that was novel in the way of picturesque- 
ness, but then I had not seen India. It took us three weeks 
to go through the heart of India, from Calcutta to Bom- 
bay, where we took ship for Ismailia. I was glad when we 
passed through the Suez Canal and were within five hours 
of Cairo, for travelling in India was rough, the roughest we 
ever did, and I was afraid that some one of the party would 
break down at sea. We had been sleeping in damp and 
unwholesome bungalows and eating such food as we never 
before dreamed of. Much of our railway travel was done 
by night and was very fatiguing. However, we all stood it 
bravely and reached here in splendid condition. I forget 
when I last wrote to you ; the dates have been shaken out 
of me by a ride on a camel this morning. We made an ex- 
cursion to the Pyramids and the famous Sphinx a few miles 
from the town, and were obliged to go on camels the latter 
half of the way. Elephant-riding is vastly pleasanter. At 
Jeypur we made a little journey on elephants and had a 
lovely time, though now and then the elephant showed a 
disposition to sprinkle his rider over a precipice. We had 
ourselves photographed, but we have n't received the pic- 
tures, which were to be mailed to us. I hope we shall get 
them, but I am doubtful about it. We found a pile of letters 
and papers on our arrival here, and were thankful to get 
them, for we had been living a long while on mere cable- 


grams. They consoled us with their laconic assurances 
that all at home were well, but we had begun to be hungry 
for details. Among my mail was a long and interesting 
letter from ancient William, for which give him my thanks. 
I wish he had told me more about his new house at the 
Harbor and less about my drain-pipe being swept away. 
That's no kind of news to send a man! I'm sorry that 
tidal wave did n't sweep the plumber's head off. I long to 
see The Crags with its built-out stern, and am looking for- 
ward with pleasure to having you all under that happy 
roof next summer. 

As to our movements : We are to sail for Naples (from 
Alexandria) on March 4, and in the meanwhile purpose 
to run up, or down, to Jerusalem, which will occupy about 
a week. The rest of the time will be spent here, where there 
is much to see. I forgot to say that we met Mr. Bartlett at 
Bombay, and visited the Slater yacht, which came in the 
night before we sailed for Ismailia. It is a beautiful yacht, 
but I prefer a seven-thousand-ton steamer for my personal 
sailing. We are constantly meeting old friends and ac- 
quaintances. It is a little world after all. I think that some 
of my books have been great travellers in out-of-the-way 
places, for I find them known here and there in the oddest 
corners on earth. — This is a thin letter to be woven out 
of so rich experience, but I have n't words enough to make 
things plain. I write only to send my love to you, my 
dear sons, and to all of our small circle at home. 

Your affectionate Father. 


To G. E, Woodberry 

PONKAPOG, May 17, 1895. 

Dear Woodberry, — I have resumed business at the 
old stand — or, rather, I have n't. I am here with a large 
assortment of picturesque merchandise — un-made-up 
stuffs of Japan and Ceylon — which I have n't the slight- 
est inclination to unfold and offer to the public. I have 
returned to find everything precisely as I left it. I have 
just finished the pipe which I laid down half-smoked that 
morning long ago when the carriage came to take me to 
the railway station. Nothing has changed, excepting my- 
self. I am blissfully ignorant of all things literary. I 
have n't looked into a single American magazine, or read 
more than a cablegram in a newspaper, since October 4, 
1894. If you ever wish to refresh and strengthen your 
mind, steer clear of American literature for seven months 
and seven days ! I begin to think that I have some little 
intellect. I am naturally intellectual, but editorial work 
and accidental reading of dialect pomes and stories have 
come near to extinguishing the white light of reason. 
Henceforth my little flame shall be shielded by a globe, and 
will perhaps burn more purely. 

Sometime early in June we shall leave here for Tenant's 
Harbor, where I have an appointment with some cunners 
at the foot of The Crags. . . . 

Ever faithfully, T. B. A. 


To the Same 
Tenant's Harbor, Maine, July 17, 1895. 

Dear Woodberry, — When you are disposed to listen 
to what the wild waves are saying to the sympathetic crags 
under my study window, won't you speak up and say so? 
Your room here, with "magic casements" opening on the 
sea, is ready for you toujours. You will find it a very drowsy, 
dreamy place, with such mandr agora in the air as is not 
known elsewhere on the coast. I am positive that Mon- 
hegan, lying off to the southward, is the enchanted isle 
where Prosper© and Miranda had their summer cottage 
in the old days. 

It is simply impossible to do any work at The Crags. 
Since my return home I have done nothing but read — all 
sorts of books, Pepys's Diary, Social Evolution, the recollec- 
tions of Sonya Koval^vsky, things in French and Spanish, 
and God knows what all. . . . 

When you come, don't wear anything but your old 
clothes, for we do not dine here. One must be prepared at 
any instant to lie down on the rocks, or roll in the bayberry, 
or get red paint all over him. . . . 

I might have written all this to you in Japanese, but 
perhaps that would have seemed a bit pedantic, since you 
don't understand the language, you poor ignorant critter ! 

Mrs. Aldrich sends warm regards to you, and is wonder- 
ing whether you like lobsters and Russian fish-pies. 

Ever affectionately yours, T. B. A. 


To W. D, Howells 

59 Mt. Vernon St., Oct. 25, 1895. 

Dear Howells, — How long ago it all seems! The 
landing of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth and your ar- 
rival in Boston are events separated by only a few months. 
The Httle wooden pill-box on Sacramento Street and the 
cardboard affair which I clung to in Pinckney Street are 
coeval with the Old State House and Faneuil Hall. 

In your collection of antiquities I have the feeling of a 
piece of bric-k-brac doubtful of its own value, in spite of 
the plush-lined case in which you have so handsomely 
placed me. 

What you say of Osgood is touching and true. But if he 
had had all the Wealth of Nations he would still have gone 

ashore on some financial reef after had frittered away 

the ship's stores. Those were — at least in looking back to 
them — happy days for us, though I doubt if Osgood's 
enjoyment was always on a level with ours. The other 
morning as I was turning over a boimd copy of " Jubilee 
Days" I suddenly recalled Osgood's grim smile, a smile of 
blended rheumatism and incredulity, when I announced 
to him that my contributions to " Jubilee Days" measured 
17^ feet — I had measured them with a piece of twine. 
"Jubilee Days," however, was a financial success in a 
small way, one of the few successes that befell him at that 
period. But all is over and done, and poor old Osgood is 
bound in full marble in Kensal Green, laid away like a 


copy of an idition de luxe, to be valued, but not to be read 
any more. As for ourselves — the years .are after us ; but 
I shall always be young so long as you continue to put forth 
lovely leaves with all the profusion of a budding ^author. 
I envy you. In my early New York days I used to throw 
off a lyric or two every morning before going down town. 
I wish I had my springtime fluency with my chastened 
autumnal judgment. Perhaps — I 'm not sure — I was 
foolish not to train myself to turn out just so much "copy" 
every day. But we all are as God made us. I like to think 
of what Clemens once wrote to me : he said that if he was 
a fool, he was at least God's fool, and entitled to some 

You so completely fill the autobiographic field that I am 
fighting against a desire to write two or three chapters 
about New York as I knew it when a boy of seventeen or 
eighteen. Irving, and WiUis, and Bryant, and Fitz- Greene 
Halleck, and Ruf us Griswold were still prowHng the streets, 
upon which still rested the shadow of Poe. Ned Buntline 
was a queer figure about town. He had been something or 
other in the Mexican War, and he went round with a 
slouched hat on his skull and a sabre dangling at his thigh ! 
He was a picture. In order to lay these ghosts I shall have 
to ink them, and pigeonhole my manuscript. — I 've for- 
gotten that I am writing to a man who cannot have time to 
read letters even when, as in this case, they need no an- 
swer. . . . 

Sincerely, T. B. A. 


To the Same 
Mt. Vernon St., Boston, Nov. 12, 1895. 
Dear Howells, — As I cannot, in my present sterile 
state of mind, make any presentable "copy" for the maga- 
zines, I am just boiling over with letters. I remind myself 
of the boy described by Lowell, — the poor little chap who 
was so full of tears (at the prospect of returning to boarding- 
school) that if you joggled him he spilt. I shed letters at 
the slightest provocation, and your provocation is very 
great. I spare neither age nor sex — with a preference for 
persons of my own years weighing about 160 pounds. The 
thing that saves me from being a nuisance is that I do 
not feel the least hurt if I don't get letter for letter. If my 
correspondent will only let me blaze away at him, and 
has n't the desire to inflict some personal injury on me 
when he meets me, I consider that I have the best of the 
bargain. How long this is going to last I don't know. I 
was never before afflicted with the disease. But I am run- 
ning away from the intention of this note. I want to say 
that the little volume you mention is simply a gathering 
of the verses which seem best to me in my last three or four 
books. The poems are not Later Lyrics, excepting in the 
sense that they were written subsequently to my two pre- 
vious ("too previous," Woodberry suggests) volumes of 
selections in the same kind, I send the book to you in 
your unofficial capacity, since by so doing I may send my 
love with it. . . . 

Faithfully yours, T. B, Aldrich. 


I was 59 yesterday. It is unpleasant to be 59; but it 
would be unpleasanter not to be, having got started. 

To G, E, Woodberry 

Redman Farm, 
PONKAPOG, Mass., Oct. 6, 1896. 

Dear Woodberry, — . . . This is the last time for the 
present that I shall address you from Ponkapog. In a few 
days we return to town for the winter. I spent a pleasant 
hour or two yesterday among my books, and made a polit- 
ical canvas of one corner of my library, and found that 
Wordsworth will vote for McKinley, Keats for Palmer, 
and Shelley for Bryan. Speaking of poetry, I have lately 
been wondering why any man should handicap himself 
with rhyme and rhythm when he can canter round the 
circle in the light harness of prose. This mood is probably 
an acute symptom of a lyrical relapse on my part. 

I have had a broken summer, and have been in no one 
place long enough to do anything but read, read, read. 
I Ve done lots of reading. I have just had the satisfaction 
of reading my Harvard diploma — with the aid of a Latin 
dictionary and the French and Spanish languages, espe- 
cially the Spanish, which is two thirds Latin. You will 
please to understand that I am virum Litteris deditufUy 
scriptorem elegantem, narratorem facetum, poetam ingenii 
ubertate et varium et muUiplkem, and try to treat me with 
some little respect. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 


To Frank Dempster Sherman 

Boston, Dec. 10, 1896. 
Dear Sherman, — I have not seen Watson's sonnet,* 
and know nothing about it. It is Hke him not to send it to 
me. Perhaps you will copy it for the undersigned. No, I 
don't see myself in his verse, but when I read his "Lach- 
rymae Musarum" I am torn because I didn't write it. 
Watson's grandfather and father were Wordsworth and 
Tennyson ; his great uncle was Landor. Who but Words- 
worth could have taught Watson such a word as "prehen- 
sile"? That's Wordsworth down to the very roots. I can 
fancy the old gentleman saying it, his face beaming with 
that expression of yearning for milk which one finds in all 
his portraits. 

Yours affectionately, T. B. Aldrich. 

To R, W. Gilder 

Boston, Dec. 12, 1896. 
Dear Gilder, — I suppose that Woodberry has told 
you what a sad and anxious household we have here. Mr. 
Pierce came in from Milton a week ago last Thursday to 
pass three or four days with us, intending to go to New 
York on Tuesday. On Monday morning he had a stroke 
of paralysis, and has ever since been lying helpless in our 
house. His situation is very serious. For nearly twenty- 

* " To Thomas Bailey Aldrich," a reply to Aldrich's " On Read- 
ing William Watson's Sonnets entitled ' The Purple East.' " 


five years he has been one of the most loved of guests at our 
fireside, and it takes all our fortitude to face the fact that 
that wise and gentle and noble heart has come to us for the 
last time. He is dimly conscious, but cannot speak; his 
right side is completely paralyzed. Should he, by a miracle, 
recover, he would never be able to walk, and his mind 
would be partly gone. I am sure you will be grieved to hear 
all this, for no one could be with him, even for so short a 
time as you were last summer, without being impressed by 
the sweetness and simplicity and integrity of his character. 
When I think of the false and cruel men who are let live, 
I don't understand the scheme which blots out such lives 
as his. I would have given him ten or fifteen happy years 
more. In haste, 

Yours sincerely, T. B. A. 

To E.C, Stedman 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June lo, 1897. 

My dear Edmund, — When you get through with that 
handsome middle-aged man you hire to sit for you for your 
photograph, I wish you would send him on here to me. 
None of my photos does me any justice, while your alleged 
portrait is clearly that of a person quite entitled to reside 
in so picturesque a mansion as the "Casa Laura." If I 
ever get a decent shadow of myself I'll send it to you; 
meanwhile I am glad to get yours, though it is no substi- 
tute for E. C. S. 

I a^ pleased that you like the ode and think that it did 


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With a portion of a note from Augustus Saint-Gaudens 


not fall wholly short of the theme. What an advantage (for 
the time being) occasion-verse has over any other kind of 
verse ! It is the morning editorial of poetry, instantly suc- 
cessful, if successful at all, and forgotten by the time the 
evening papers are out. Patriotic and occasional poems, 
as a rule, don't wear well. I feel that most of Whittier's 
verse in this kind and all of Holmes's have already under- 
gone great shrinkage, while Emerson's " Bacchus," it seems 
to me, grows finer day by day. All the same I should like 
you to include the Shaw Ode in your selections from my 
poems. I don't know what else to suggest, since I don't 
know what space you are giving to promising young poets 
like me. However, here is a list of things for your choice : — 
Shaw Memorial Ode Monody on Wendell 

Outward Bound (sonnet) Phillips 

Andromeda (sonnet) To Hafiz 

Reminiscence (sonnet) Prescience 

The Last Caesar Santo Domingo 

Alice Yeaton's Son Tennyson 

Unguarded Gates Memory 

A Shadow of the Night Twilight 

Quits (quatrains) 


To Francis Bartlett 

A FALL IN C. B. & Q. 
It is the purpose of the author to tell this story in Car- 
lylese — a style of prose which admits of much grotesque 


phrasing and what seems to be profound Thought, but is 
not Thought at all, only Wind on the Stomach, cboIus 

It will be seen by the foregoing prolegomenon that the 
writer has already dipped his pen in the eccentric inkhorn 
which hangs, and has long since run dry, in the chimney- 
corner, otherwise ingleside, of the cottage at Craigenput- 
toch once occupied by the sweet-tempered Sage, now gone 
into Infinite Darkness and Chaos, who has left behind him 
such a splutter of verbal fireworks as no man ever touched 
off in this century or in any other century known to bipeds : 
bipeds intended to be — and having all the ruminative 
and dismal attributes of — quadrupeds. 

In the year 1879 — as nearly as can be ascertained in so 
inaccurate and unmathematical a world as this — there 
lived in New England, in that obscure part of the globe 
unhappily discovered by an impecunious and sea- faring 
tramp calling himself Christopher Columbus — doubtless 
with no authority whatever to do so — there lived, I repeat, 
in New England (to be precise, on the outskirts of a con- 
glomeration of imperfect drains known as Boston) a certain 
Jonah Robinson. 

It was fortunate for the scriptural whale that this was 
not the Jonah he inhaled on the plangent wave, for the 
present Jonah would sorely have disagreed with him. 
Jonah Robinson disagreed with everybody within reach of 
his inadequate articulations, and was named by his luck- 
less neighbors "No-I-don't-Robinson." ".No, I don't admit 


it," or ''No, I don't believe it," he would say, just as the 
case might be, or even just as the case might not be. " Per- 
haps you'll admit that 2 and 2 make 4," said Smellfungus 
to him on one occasion. "No, I don't admit it," cries the 
atrabilious Jonah ; " 2 and 2 sometimes make 22 ! ! " Where- 
upon Smellfungus incontinently retreated into his domicile 
and was heard no more. 

I began this story seventeen years ago, dropt it for some 
reason, and have cleanly forgotten what it was to be all 
about. I'm sorry I didn't finish the thing, for it is devilish 
good Carlylese, so far as it goes. T. B. A. 

This MS. is my " party-call." We had a charming time 
with you. 

To H, W. Mabie 
Mt. Vernon St., Boston, Dec. 4, 1897. 

My dear Mabie, — Your paper in the last " Chap 
Book" places me in aU sorts of grateful debt to you. After 
thanking you for the judicial kindness of the criticism I 
want to tell you how deeply it interested me at certain 
special points. You have, in a way, made me better ac- 
quainted with myself. Until you said it, I was not aware, 
or only vaguely aware, of how heavily we younger writers 
were overshadowed and handicapped by the fame of the 
reformatory and didactic group of poets, the chiefs of which 
were of course Whittier and Lowell : the others were only 
incidentally reformers, and Holmes was no reformer at all. 


But they all with their various voices monopolized the 
public ear. So far as I am concerned, I did not wholly 
realize this, for even long before I had won an appreciable 
number of listeners these same men had given me great 
encouragement. I don't think that any four famous au- 
thors were ever so kind to an obscure young man as Haw- 
thorne, Whittier, Lowell, and Holmes were to me. I wish 
to show you, some day, a letter which Hawthorne wrote to 
me thirty-four years ago. 

I like to have you say that I have always cared more for 
the integrity of my work than for any chance popularity. 
And what you say of my *' aloofness" as being " due in part 
to a lack of quick sympathies with contemporary expe- 
rience" (though I had never before thought of it) shows 
true insight. To be sure, such verse as "Elm wood," 
"Wendell Phillips," "Unguarded Gates," and the "Shaw 
Memorial Ode" would seem somewhat to condition the 
statement; but the mood of these poems is not habitual 
with me, not characteristic. They did, however, grow out 
of strong convictions. ... I have always been instinc- 
tively shy of " topics of the day." A good poem on some 
passing event is certain of instant success ; but when the 
event is passed, few things are more certain of oblivion. 
Jones' or Smith's lines "to my lady's eyebrow" — which 
is lovely in every age — will outlive nine tenths of the noisy 
verse of our stress and storm period. Smith or Jones, who 
never dreamed of having a Mission, will placidly sweep 
down to posterity over the fall of a girl's eyelash, leaving 


about all the shrill didactic singers high and dry ''on the 
sands of time." Enviable Jones, or Smith! ... 
Believe me, your sincere friend, T. B. Aldrich. 

To 5. Weir Mitchell 

59 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, 
December 26, 1897. 

My dear Mitchell, — I am not a little touched that 
you should think to send me a copy of that very limited 
edition of "Hugh Wynne." The book in this shape begins 
by being doubly precious, and year by year a higher value 
will be set upon its rarity. I can imagine the envy with 
which the collector of 1997 will regard the possessor of a 
large paper copy of one of the two chief pieces of American 
fiction. The other is of course " The Scarlet Letter." They 
go together, though Hawthorne dealt only with an episode, 
while in "Hugh Wynne" you deal with a period, the most 
picturesque and important period in our national history. 
One cannot read these pages without feeling the pressure 
of great events in the air. In the camp scenes I get what 
I never before got from any book — a sense of vast num- 
bers of men drawn together and thrilled by a great purpose. 
All those chapters concerning the early political and social 
life of Philadelphia are full of novel and rich material ad- 
mirably used. In Darthea Peniston you have given Beatrix 
Castlewood a beautiful and virtuous younger sister. This 
indirectly reminds me to speak of a point which none of 
your inadequate reviewers has mentioned : When Thack- 


eray introduces Dick Steele or Mr. Addison into his narra- 
tive he does it with a self-conscious air that is shared by 
Messrs. Steele and Addison themselves. They stand apart 
from the imagined dramatis personcB and seem to be saying 
to the reader: "See how deuced clever Mr. Thackeray 
is!" Now, in *'Hugh Wynne," Washington and Andr^ 
and Arnold and the other historical personages mingle 
naturally with the characters of the story and breathe the 
same atmosphere. This is an effect of fine (perhaps un- 
premeditated, and so all the finer) art. But I am writing 
a precis of your romance, and I meant only to thank you 
for it. 

I have reached a stage in life when one clings to old ac- 
quaintance and old friendship — so much in each sort has 
come to an end. I beg you to regard me as your friend and 
to let me think of you as mine. With New Year greetings, 
I am, 

Ever cordially yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To R, W. Gilder 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 15, 1898. 
Dear Gilder, — I am sorry that you and Madame 
did n't find a day or two for Ponkapog. Everything is so 
lovely here, where we live on cream and amber butter from 
our purple cows ; where nothing disturbs us but the far-off 
rumors of war. 

I like your little poem, and think the last line is wholly 
musical, though it is a redundant line. To my ear its over- 


fulness gives it melody. I do not quite fancy the word 
**musicked" — that is, I like it one minute and don't like 
it the next minute. The "ck" bothers me, as it does in 
physicked. ** Multitudinous" is a fine word always, but it 
lacks novelty. One is apt to think of Shakespeare's "mul- 
titudinous seas incarnadine" and the old Greek poet's 
"multitudinous laughter of the waves." But this is beside 
the question. I imagine that I should not have lighted on 
so good phrasing, or at least that kind of phrasing, if I had 
been writing the poem. " Crescendo " or " contralto " would 
have occurred to me sooner than "multitudinous." 

"... And all day long he hears from hidden birds 
The soft crescendo of melodious words." 

This is not a criticism, but a reflection. "Soft crescendo" 
came to me instinctively in "Forever and a Day." But I 
have n't any business to be writing about poetry, for the 
Muses have kept their nine snowy shoulders turned on me 
these many months, and in future I do not intend to make 
love to any of those capricious girls, if I can help myself. 
At a time when it is supposed to be poetical to write 
"Gawd" instead of God and to otherwise mutilate God's 
choicest language, perhaps silence is the best poem for a 
man who respects his art. Oh, no, this is not sour grapes. 
My verses still sell — from 'force of habit; but what the 
great American public really likes is : — 

"Her body's in the baggage car." 

At the Howard Athenaeum the other night I saw an audi- 
ence of apparently human beings deeply moved by the sing- 


ingof thisrot. A stereoscopic picture of "the baggage car" 
brought tears to the eyes of all the burglars and murderers 
in the upper gallery. For a homely, horny-handed, whole- 
souled heart-song give me ''Her body's in the baggage 

car." It is even better than 's epileptic best. 

Poor , he really might write poetry that would n't sell ! 

No more at present from 

Yours faithfully, T. B. A. 

To the Same 

Hotel de France et Choisetjl, 
Paris, AprU 27, 1899. 

My dear Gilder, — If you are meditating a threnody 
on a certain contemporary of yours who disappeared nearly 
a year ago and has not since been heard of, stay your hand, 
for in ten days or so from now he will return to the land of 
the brave and the home of the oppressors of an unoffending 
people fighting for freedom and self-government — as we 
did in 1776. Suppose England had sold us to Germany, 
how would we have liked that ? When I think that we have 
bought the Filipinos, just as if they were so many slaves, I 
am not proud of my country. I will not vote for McKinley 
again. I would sooner vote for Bryan. To be ruined finan- 
cially is not so bad as to be ruined morally. . . . 

Yours sincerely, T. B. A. 

I 've been everywhere since I saw you — in Japan, China, 
Ceylon, and up the Nile, where, by the way, I met Weir 


Mitchell in a handsome dahabeah as happy as if he owned 
the Pyramids. 

To G. E. Woodherry 

Carter's Hotel, London, 
May 12, 1899. 

Dear Woodberry, — On getting back to civilization 
— for England is really the only civilized spot over here — 
I find your volume of essays awaiting me. I envy you 
bringing out a new book. I no longer indulge in such dis- 
sipations. I have re-read "Taormina" with pleasure, and 
am keeping the other papers to comfort me on the sea- voy- 
age home. I dipped here and there into "Democracy," 
just enough to discover that it was a poem. I struck several 
fine things, and I admire your rosy prophecies. Personally 
I must confess that I have never been very deeply im- 
pressed by the administrative abilities of what we call the 
lower classes. The reign of terror in France is a fair illus- 
tration of the kind of government which the masses give us 
when they get the happy opportunity. But your masses,, 
though without much education, are to be composed ex- 
clusively of individuals with lofty ideals — not such per- 
sons as Boss Croker (if that's the way to spell him), for 
example. However, I fancy it will come out all right two 
or three thousand years after we all are dead and forgotten. 
In the mean while I expect to sail for home on May 20, on 
the Campania, a good ship which I hope will be good 
enough to land me in New York in time to catch an 
afternoon train for Boston. I want to get back to my books 


and my other pipes. I have had a lovely and instructive 
journey, though. It's a wonderful world round which I 
have now put two girdles. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

To the Same 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 12, 1899. 
Dear Woodberry, — Don't ever go away from home 
on a ten months' absence without leaving somebody be- 
hind to answer your letters for you. I have been swamped, 
and am only just getting my head out of my correspond- 
ence. I found my private affairs in a tangle, too, and not 
easy to straighten out. But the slug 's in the bud, and God 's 
in the sky, and the world is all O. K., as Browning incident- 
ally remarks. Apropros of Browning, I've been reading 
his letters to ^'Ba" and "Ba"'s letters to him, and think 
it a shameful thing that they should be printed. All that 
ponderous love-making — a queer mixture of Greek roots 
and middle-age stickiness ("Ba" was 40 years old) — is 
very tedious. Here and there is a fine passage, and one is 
amused by the way the lovers patronize everybody they 
don't despise. But as a whole the book takes away from 
Browning's dignity.^ A man — even the greatest — can- 
not stand being photographed in his pajahmas. Thank 

^ p. S. I met Browning on three occasions. He was very cordial to me 
in a man-of-the-world fashion. I did not care greatly for him personally. 
Good head, long body, short legs. Seated, he looked like a giant ; stand- 
ing, he just missed being a dwarf. He talked well, but not so well as 
Lowell. . . . 


God, we are spared Shakespeare's Letters to Anne Hatha- 
way! Doubtless he wrote her some sappy notes. He did 
everything that ever man did. 

We are gradually breaking up here, preparatory to 
moving to The Crags, which has been closed these three 
summers. I shall go there without any literary plans, un- 
less I carry out my idea of turning "The Eve of St. Agnes" 
into Kiplingese. Would n't it be delicious ! — 

St. Hagnes Heve! 'ow bloomin' chill it was! 

The Howl, for all his hulster, was a-cold. 

The 'are limped tremblin' through the blarsted grass, 

Etc., etc. 

I think it might make Keats popular again — poor Keats, 
who did n't know any better than to write pure English. 
The dear boy was n't **up" to writing ** Gawd" instead of 
God. In no haste, as ever, 

T. B. A. 

To Francis Bartlett 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Oct. 18, 1899. 
Dear Bartlett, — If I had known what a bother I 
was to have with that diabolical half -line in "Elmwood," 
I would have kept you here by main force and made you 
help me straighten it out. I don't see how I am ever going 
to be able to do it. I have got to say what I did say, and it 's 
not clear how I can say it differently. The idea (if it is an 
idea) of Nature whispering her secrets to a poet is not 
Tennyson's, and though I lighted on his phrasing I'm con- 


vinced that I did n't get it from "Tithonus," for the thing 
was wholly new to me when you pointed it out in that 
poem. I think I shall change whispering to breathing and 
wild to strange and let the matter go. Does n't Longfellow 
in his verses on Agassiz have something about Nature do- 
ing something to him? By the way, I have just found that 
a line which I've always loved in Tennyson's "Wellington 
Ode" isn't Tennyson's at all — 

" The path of duty Js the way to glory.'* 
This was written in 1852, but in 1831 Macaulay, in his 
review of Nugent' s "Memorials of Hampden," had al- 
ready written : 

[Hampden] " found glory only because glory lay in the 
plain path of duty." 


" Since Eden's freshness and man's fall 
. , No rose has been original." 

Yours faithfully, T. B. 

To H. W. Mahie 

Boston, Jan'y 25, 1900. 
My dear Secretary, — (This is addressed to you on 
your dizzy pinnacle as Secretary to the National Institute 
of Arts and Letters, where you are as much at home as if 
you were in dressing-gown and slippers in your own bun- 

I wish I could, but I can't, attend the meeting of the 
Association to be held on January 30th. 


My dear Editor, — (This is to you in your equally 
dizzy journalistic quality) 

I have received a nice little note from a conjecturally 
nice little woman inviting me to talk (for publication) on 
contemporary poetry ! If my views on contemporary poetry 
were printed in "The Outlook," the circulation of that 
admirable journal would shrink to one third of its present 
size — still leaving the paper excellent property. I should 
have to say that when I want great poetry, or even 

good poetry, I don't go to , or , or . This 

would show that I don't know anything about the matter, 
and no newspaper would care to have a fellow like that 
loafing on the premises. Something to this effect, only 
wrapped in the very softest cotton of phraseology, I shall 
send to that imagined nice little woman who has sweetly 
attempted to fasten herself to me with her delicate inter- 
viewing antennae. The result, I am certain, does n't dis- 
appoint you a bit. 

My dear Mabie, — (This is a strictly personal apos- 

I was sorry not to get to Bartlett's the other morning and 
help you look at his pictures ; but just as I was leaving the 
house for that purpose a business call dragged me down 
to State Street on a matter of dollars and cents. I got the 
cents ! 

Ever faithfully yours, T. B. Aldrich. 


To R, E, Lee Gibson 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 4, 1900. 
My dear Mr. Gibson, — If I had not a disheartening 
pile of correspondence on my desk — accumulated during 
my three or four months^ absence abroad — I would at- 
tempt something like an adequate acknowledgment of 
your letter. As it is I can only briefly thank you for it. 
What you say touching the changes in certain of the son- 
nets interests me. These changes were not made without 
due consideration and what seemed to me good ethical or 
artistic reasons. Surely, Milton's inward-seeing eyes mak- 
ing their own deep midnight and rich morn (I am quoting 
from a bad memory) is more imaginative than "shut from 
the splendors of the night and morn." As to the "great 
cloud continents of sunset seas," the line was well enough 
by itself, but a little too bombastic and Marlowe-like in 
connection with the tone of the whole sonnet. Besides, 
the alliteration of the text of the lines immediately preced- 
ing made a change imperative. I have a way of looking at 
my own verse as if it were written by some man I did n't 
like very well, and thus I am enabled to look at it rather 
impersonally, and to discover when I have fallen into mere 
"fine writing," a fault I am inclined to, while I detest it. 
I think "Wyndham Towers" my best long poem, and 
"Friar Jerome" the next best. — Do you know Mr. Riley's 
"The Flying Islands of the Night"? — an imaginative 
poem of singular beauty, and worth a thousand volumes 


of his dialect verse. The English language is too rich and 
sacred a thing to be mutilated and vulgarized. . . . But I 
am doing what I have no time to do, writing a long letter. 
Believe me, 

Always very cordially yours, 

T. B. Aldrich. 

To W. D. Howells 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 5, 1900. 

Dear Howells, — I am still sorry that I was in Ponka- 
pog the other day when you called at Mt. Vernon Street. 
I have not enough years left (and never had !) to be able to 
afford to miss you when you call. Sometimes I almost wish 
— I say "almost" because I recognize how much wider a 
field New York is — that you had stayed in your lovely 
house in Beacon Street and taken charge of Charles River 
after Holmes gave it up. I am not sure that you would 
have done finer work than you have done, perhaps not; 
but I know that I should have caught something of your 
industry if I had had you for a neighbor and a consulting 
spur. There's no infectious industry here! But this is a 
long-winded way of telling you how sorry I was to be 
out. . . . 

Only that I don't want to write a grown-up letter, I 
would speak of the strangely touching and imaginative 
piece which you printed in the last "Harper's." It im- 
pressed me singularly, became, in the reading of it, a sort 
of personal experience. When I went to bed that night I 


had to lie awake and think it over, as something that hap- 
pened to me during the day. . . , 

Always faithfully, T. B. Aldrich. 

To Francis Bartlett 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., June 21, 1900. 
My dear Bartlett, — I've been very busy and am 
greatly pleased with the result. You remember a thing of 
mine called " Shaw's Folly" — a thing in two parts which 
would n't hang together and could n't be separated ? Well, 
a while ago I had an inspiration and saw how I could fuse 
the two antagonistic sections and make a complete story 
of it — the best long short-story I have written since '' Mar- 
jorie Daw." I had put so many fresh turns in the original 
version that I was heartbroken to lose 'em. But now I 
have saved the whole lot and added others. You see what 
a dearth of news I have when I fill a sheet with a matter of 
this sort. 

Ever yours, T. B. A. 

To H. W, Mahie 

PoNKAPOG, Mass., Sept. 12, 1900. 
. Dear Mr. Mabie, — I have just been reading a charm- 
ing paper of yours on Shakespeare's Sonnets and one or 
two — I don't call them criticisms — things occur to me. 
You speak of the English form of sonnet as " surrendering 
something of the sustained fulness of tone of the Italian 
sonnet, but securing in exchange a sweetness, a flow of pure 


melody, ^ which were beyond the compass of the original 
sonnet form.' " Are you sure of that? I have always enter- 
tained the conviction that the Petrarchan form of sonnet, 
with its interwoven rhymes, its capacity for expressing 
subtle music, was an instrument as superior to the English 
form as the harp or the guitar is superior to the banjo, and 
I fancy that most workers in this kind of verse will agree 
with me. The alternate lines rhyming, and closing with a 
couplet, gave the poet the command of some of the richest 
melodic effects within the reach of English versification. 
The sonnet that ends with a couplet misses that fine un- 
rolling of music which belongs to the sonnet proper. The 
couplet brings the reader up with a jerk. In ninety-nine 
cases out of a hundred the couplet has the snap of a whip- 
lash, and turns the sonnet into an epigram. To my think- 
ing, this abruptness hurts many of Shakespeare's beautiful 
poems of fourteen lines — for they are simply that. One 
must go to Milton, and Wordsworth, and Keats (in three 
instances) in order to find the highest development of the 
English SONNET. ... 

Sincerely yours, T. B. Aldrich. 

To E. C. Stedman 

Mt. Vernon St., Nov. 15, 1900. 

My dear Edmund, — I had been wanting to ask you 
for one autograph copy of the ''Prelude," but hesitated, 
because I know that such requests are sometimes the 
straws that finish off the camel. I value that fine piece of 


blank verse all the more for coming to me unsought. I re- 
ceived a while ago a copy of the regular edition of the *' An- 
thology," but as it bore no indication to the contrary, I 
supposed that it was sent by H. M. & Co., who favor me 
from time to time with their publications. I have just read 
your Introduction, which seems to me most admirable 
from every point of view, and have gone more carefully 
through the body of the book, and find it richer than I 
thought it at a first glance. If it were not for Tennyson 
and Browning, our Yankee poets could hold their own 
against the Victorians. 

It is easier to find little flaws in your compilation than 
it would be to produce a work one half as good. As no 
ten men can be brought to agree exactly touching a single 
poem, how can a collector of one or two thousand poems 
expect to please everybody? Of course I differ with you 
on certain selections ; I take exception to one or two of the 
critical dicta in your Biographical Notes, and here and 
there the touch of your hand in the rounding of a para- 
graph ; but, as I have already said, I don't see how any 
one could have made a finer American Anthology. I wish, 
though, that you had not set Lanier in your choice gallery 
of portraits. Chronologically he is out of place, and in 
point of poetic accomplishment he does n't deserve to be 
there. I don't believe that there are twenty-five persons in 
the United States who would place Lanier anywhere but 
in the rear rank of minor poets; and I don't believe there 
are five critics who would rank him with Poe, Bryant, 


Emerson, Whittier, and Lowell. (I mention Poe, though 
IVe an idea that if Poe had been an exemplary, conven- 
tional, tax- oppressed .citizen, like Longfellow, his few 
poems, as striking as they are, would not have made so 
great a stir.) To my thinking that right-hand lower corner 
of your frontispiece would have been more fitly occupied 
by Fitz- Greene Halleck, whose "Burns," "Marco Boz- 
zaris," and "Red Jacket" are poems which promise to 
live as long as any three pieces in the Anthology. To be 
frank, I think Lanier was a musician, and not a poet. If 
this were merely my personal opinion, I would n't express 
it. I have never met five men of letters who thought differ- 
ently. . . . 

Ever faithfully yours, T. B. Aldrich. 



I 901-1907 

THE end of the century and of the happy post-merid- 
ianal decade of Aldrich's life came together. Fate, 
that seldom fails to balance a man's account, was prepar- 
ing to collect heavy arrears of sorrow. On Christmas Day, 

1900, the elder of the twin sons was married. To our poet's 
imagination this marriage brought the promise of the fur- 
ther enrichment of his own life. In the early summer of 

1901, the Aldriches sailed for England to spend some 
months on the Devon coast. On their return in September 
they were met at the wharf by a message telling them that 
the son whom they had left in such joyful estate, whose 
letter received just as they were sailing from Liverpool 
announced his intention to welcome them at the wharf, 
had been smitten with a sudden hemorrhage of the lungs 
and had been hurried to the Adirondacks. They hastened 
to his side, and for a time he seemed better. There amid 
the mountains for two years and a half the fight went on 
with alternate seasons of hope and sad certainty. Whoever 
has read the letters in this book knows the strong tender- 
ness of Aldrich's family affections, but only his intimates 
know how tragical was his grief in these cruel years. Be- 


fore the world he contrived for the most part to maintain 
a brave cheerfuhiess, and through his correspondence 
runs a valiant humor that touches with poignant pathos 
the hearts of those who know what lay behind. 

The story of the earlier months at Saranac will best be 
told in his own words. First, a couple of paragraphs from 
letters to two of his friends will suggest the background of 
his life : — 

"We are very pleasantly settled and like the quiet life 
here. We are on the edge of the village with the mountains 
for our immediate neighbors. Our house, a new and spa- 
cious villa which we were lucky to get, stands on a plateau 
overlooking Saranac River. Two or three hundred yards 
away at our feet is the cottage in which Stevenson spent 
the winter of '87. He didn't like Saranac Lake, and I 
fancy was not very popular. It is a beautiful spot, never- 
theless. The sunsets and the sunrises compensate one for 
the solitude, which moreover has a charm of 'its own." 

"Of all places in the world this is the place in which to 
read. We've taken an overgrown cottage on the outskirts 
of the town, which at night looks like a cluster of stars 
dropped into the hollow. The young Aldriches have a 
cottage near by, and there are two or three other houses 
visible — when it does n't snow. It snows nearly all the 
time in a sort of unconscious way. I never saw such con- 
tradicting, irresponsible weather. It isn't cold here, for 
human beings, when it is 20 degrees below zero. Every- 
thing else is of course frozen sti£E. The solitude is some- 


thing you can cut with a knife. Icicles are our popular 
household pets. I am cultivating one that is already four 
feet long — I am training it outside, you understand, on a 
north gable. I feel that all this is giving you a false idea of 
our surroundings, which are as beautiful as a dream. Every 
window frames a picture of bewildering and capricious 
loveliness. If our dear boy only continues to gather strength 
we shall have a happy winter in this little pocket-Switzer- 
land. He is very thin and white and feeble. At times I 
have to turn my eyes away, but my heart keeps looking at 

So much for the setting; between the lines of a long 
letter to Mr. Howells we may read the story of a sensitive, 
whimsical, courageous spirit, struggling with tragical fore- 
bodings ; — 

Saranac Lake, N. Y., Dec. 23, 1901. 
Dear Howells, — This is one of those not-to-be- 
answered letters with which I threatened you. IVe been 
thinking of the old days — prodded by your note. Wq did 
enjoy them, but I fancy that time and distance and the 
present moment add a phantasmal gilt edge to the real 
enjoyment. Somehow we don't like things to-day as we 
liked them yesterday, and are going to like them to-morrow. 
Ah . . . I 'm a little doubtful about to-morrow. When I 
think of poor old Osgood sitting rosy and genial at the 
host-end of the table, with no hair on the polished top of 
his head and another bottle of champagne, not as dry as he 


is, standing in front of him — when this picture shapes 
itself in my memory and suddenly dissolves into a view of 
the dismal London burying- ground where the poor lad 
lies slowly turning into dust — when this kind of thing 
gets busy in my brain I would n't turn over my hand to be 
a great novelist, or a great general, or a great anything else. 
It is n't worth three pins. It is nothing but dust. Yet, with 
a sort of hopeful vivacity I have just bought two 5 per cent 
railway bonds that expire in 1967! Who'll be cutting off 
the coupons long before that? — provided the road hasn't 
gone into bankruptcy. Not I. I shall just be beginning to 
be known as the author of *'The Jumping Frog" and "A 
Hazard of New Fortunes," while you will be preparing to 
dance down the lists of popularity in "The Helmet of 
Navarre." But this is talking shop. I can't get away from 
it. We (I don't mean us) are very literary up here. Why 
did Hutton go to Jerusalem for "Literary Landmarks" 
when he might have found plenty of them in the Adiron- 
dacks? Among others who have left footprints on the 
sands of time in this neighborhood are Stillman, Emerson, 
and Stevenson. The plateau upon which our house stands 
overlooks a small river, on whose opposite bank, near by, 
stands the melancholy cottage where Stevenson spent the 
winter of '87. I admired (and felt enviously how far it was 
beyond my courage) the wholesome candor with which 
you confessed to having never read a novel of his. You 
have missed an entertaining writer, though not a great one. 
His surviving friends, still under the glamour of what must 


have been a winning personality, are hurting him by over- 
praise, and will end by getting him generally disliked. I Ve 
a theory that every author while living has a projection of 
himself, a sort of eidolon, that goes about in near and dis- 
tant places and makes friends and enemies for him out of 
folk who never know him in the flesh. When the author 
dies this phantom fades away, not caring to continue busi- 
ness at the old stand. Then the dead writer lives only in 
the impression made by his literature : this impression may 
grow sharper or fainter according to the fashions and new 
conditions of the time. Mark's spectacular personality is 
just now very busy all over the world. I doubt if there is 
another man on earth whose name is more familiar. Little 
donkey-boys on the Nile, who never heard of George 
Washington, will tell you that they were "Mark Twain's" 
donkey-boys, when the black imps were not born until 
twenty-five years after Clemens was in Egypt. ... I began 
this fearful letter several days ago, and now I find myself 
brought up against Christmas. My greetings will be a 
trifle late in reaching you, but they are not perishable. 

Dec. 24-25. For the last few years I have had a suspi- 
cion that there is something not at all merry in Merry 
Christmas — that sinister flavor which one detects in one's 
birthdays after one has had fifty or sixty of them. . . . This 
morning our boy was able to come downstairs and watch 
the revealing of a pathetic little Christmas tree in his front 
parlor. When he was brought up here on the ist of Octo- 
ber he was not expected to live through the journey. And 


now we have seen him sitting in his armchair and smiling 
upon the children as the gifts were plucked for them from 
the magical branches. . . . Dec. 27. In default of anything 
better to do I am wondering what kind of new story you 
have in your brain. I am all the time inventing plots which 
I can't use myself, plots for other fellows. I laid out a story 
for Stockton t' other afternoon. It was to be called ''The 
Reformed Microbe." I wish I were not too lazy to give 
him the outlines of it. The thing was up to date and just 
fitted to his grotesque methods. Tell me of your find. — 
Dec, 30. This letter is made up of patches, like a crazy- 
quilt. From time to time I interrupt my idleness to add a 
square or a triangle. It is a busy idleness, however, since 
" they also serve who only stand and wait," and I am doing 
a good deal of energetic waiting. I find myself in a monde 
different from any I have ever known. You would get a 
book out of these surroundings. The village of Saranac is 
unique and the natives are — uniquer! Their lives are 
very simple and accumulative. The rent for two years' 
occupancy of a cottage pays for building it. No style at all. 
The Saranacers, like the folk described by David Harum, 
don't dress for dinner, they dress for breakfast. A thrifty 
people, with very large ideas of the lavishness becoming in 
foreigners — i. e. persons from New York and Boston 
and other partly civilized centres. There is much wealth 
and little show among this part of the population, which 
consists of invalids and their families, and an occasional 
misguided guest. When all is said there is a charm in the 


place. There's something in the air to heal the heart of 
sorrow. . . . Dec. 31. Blizzard. I must polish up my snow- 
shoes. Meanwhile I'm reading **Le Vicomte de Brage- 
lonne," and have just come across a pretty thing: ''Every 
woman is always only twenty years old in one corner of 
her heart." . . . 
No more for some time to come from 

Yours affectionately, T. B. Aldrich. 

As the months moved on with their increasing burden of 
anxiety and melancholy musing, one day so like another, 
as Aldrich said, that he " sometimes mistook Thursday for 
the previous Monday," the exiles made what efforts they 
could to keep a hold on the sustaining current of the 
world's life. In winter there were brief visits to Boston, 
in summer to Ponkapog. A few guests from the circle of 
their closest friends came and went. They took, too, an 
interest in building a house of their own. It was com- 
pleted in record time for that region of leisurely labor, and 
named "The Porcupine," "because it had so many good 
points, and because it was occupied by a quill-driver." 

Quill-driving, indeed, became again Aldrich' s chief 
occupation and solace. In the winter of 1902 the plot of 
"The White Feather" "flashed" on him "out of a blue 
sky of idleness," and he found unusual satisfaction in 
working it out. In the autumn he published his volume of 
short stories, entitled "A Sea Turn and Other Matters," 
which showed his old gift for handling a surprising comic 


situation unabated, though in several of the stories there 
was an unwonted undertone of tragedy. Again, in the faU 
of 1903 he published his ''Ponkapog Papers," a collection 
of pregnant note-book jottings and delicately turned es- 
says. Throughout these years one of his chief pleasures 
was in filing the manuscript of the stories and essays that 
went into these two volumes, and in reading the proofs 
long and lovingly. Much of his scanty correspondence of 
this time is concerned with nice points of literary technique ; 
and several of the letters are of keen interest for the light 
they throw on his own view of certain details of his work. 
On September 2, 1902, he wrote to his friend, Mr. W. O. 
Fuller, concerning some criticisms which the latter had 
made on " The White Feather " : — 

My dear Fuller, — Thanks for your criticisms. They 
have greatly interested me. . . . 

The questions which you raise are chiefly questions of 
taste. In two or three cases I am rejoiced to think that you 
are wrong. I would n't say so if I did n't think I could 
convince you. 

I. "Shaggy overhanging eyebrows" is not tautological, 
if that is your meaning. Shaggy means coarse, rough, 
heavy (in texture). The flank of a mountain may be de- 
scribed as " shaggy," but it cannot be said to overhang. 

n. It is most natural, almost inevitable, that a veteran 
of the Civil War should incidentally mention the recent 
Spanish War — a thing especially interesting to him as a 


soldier ; and it was not out of character for him to touch on 
a notorious abuse that existed in both periods. In both 
wars civilians "with political pulls" were made captains 
and majors and colonels over the heads of men who had 
been trained at West Point. In our future wars a National 
Cold Storage Warehouse for politicians would be a desira- 
ble piece of architecture. 

III. The Major is a man of education, but he had 
roughed it in camp, and a rougher place than a camp in 
war-time — as I happen to know by experience — is not 
easily to be found. I purposely roughened his conversation, 
here and there. I did n't want him to deliver himself in 
the style of an "exalted parrot." You notice, by the way, 
that when he speaks of cutting no ice he credits the slang 
to you young fellows pf the present time. He might well 
have used the phrase in proprid persond. I am rather care- 
ful in my own phraseology, but I don't hesitate to employ 
a mot-de-curbstone when it expresses my meaning better 
than a more elegant term might do. I get there all the 
same ! Yes, the Major is a man of considerable culture, as 
his general diction shows. He has read the books of the 
day, and it was perfectly in order for him to object to "a 
pet phrase" which Kipling has dumped upon the reader 
no fewer than fifty times. That I quite agreed with the 
Major was a happy coincidence which the reader, not 
knowing me personally, will never suspect. 

IV. The most famous portrait of Daniel Webster repre- 
sents him standing with one hand thrust into his shirt- 


bosom. An engraving of this painting suggested to me 
what I consider the very happiest touch in my sketch. That 
looped- up empty sleeve was ben trovato. 

V. He looked "up" at me because he was seated, and I 
possibly was standing when I addressed him. 

Here my story is done. I have to thank you for your very 
light fault-finding ; perhaps you intentionally made it light. 
"The White Feather" has flaws ten times more serious 
than any you claim to have found. I hope that nobody 
will discover 'em ! 

Now please reckon this " up" at ten cents per word, and 
send me a check by return mail. I can't ajBford to throw 
away "copy" in this fashion. ... 

Yours sincerely, T. B. A. 

P. S. "Left one arm behind him on the field" is awk- 
ward. I nearly trampled that disconnected member into 
the earth in my attempt to place it correctly, and didn't 
succeed, owing to verbal circumstances over which I had 
no control. 

Your dictionary (if you have one) will set you right 
touching the word "gloaming." It means (and isn't it 
mean of it ?) either morning twilight or evening dusk. In 
Scotland, where the word was born of poor but honest 
parents, it is almost invariably applied to the dim little 
hours that cuddle up to the early dawn. 

No charges. 


Of equal bookish interest is a letter to Mr. Brander Mat- 
thews, about a paper of his on the quatrain which had 
been printed in "The Lamp." 

Saranac Lake, N. Y., January 19, 1904. 

Dear Matthews, — ^* While 'The Lamp' holds out to 
burn, the vilest sinner may return," and so it is not too 
late for me to confess that I ought long ago to have thanked 
you for your little paper on the " Quatrain." I read it with 
easy interest. It is a surprisingly difficult form of poem. 
The difficulty of its construction is out of all proportion 
to its brevity. A perfect quatrain is almost as rare as a 
perfect sonnet. "Many are called," as Oliver Herford 
remarks, "but few get up." The quatrain has laws as 
imperious as those of the sonnet, and not to be broken 
with impunity. Four lines do not necessarily constitute a 
quatrain proper any more than fourteen lines necessarily 
constitute a sonnet. If your little stanza ends with a snap 
it becomes an epigram and ceases to be a poem. The idea 
or thought expressed must be so fuUy expressed as to leave 
no material for a second stanza. The theme that can be ex- 
hausted in the space of four lines is not easy to light upon. 
I have written forty or fifty so called quatrains (I called 
'em Footnotes), but not more than five or six of them satisfy 
me. Landor was a master in this field. I once meditated 
printing my collections of four-liners in a little book with 
an elaborate essay on the quatrain, but the plan escaped, 
and now it is not worth while doing. . . . 


It is 42 degrees below zero here this morning, but my 
cordiality for you has n't frozen over. 

Yours sincerely, T. B. Aldrich. 

As the year of 1903 drew to an end the hope that had 
from time to time lighted our poet's heart grew fainter. 
Writing to Mr. E. L. Burlingame, who had made him a 
flattering offer for some articles to be written, he had said, 
"If anything should happen to my boy I'd never again set 
pen to paper. If the task were begun it would be left un- 
finished." It was never even begun! The holidays came 
and went, — "the hollow days," he called them, — and 
the gentle life that was so dear to him flickered to its 

On March 6, 1904, Charles Aldrich died, in his thirty- 
sixth year. By this death, which involved more elements 
of tragedy than the mere pathos of mortality, the settled 
happiness of Aldrich' s life was shattered. His literary 
faculty was shrivelled by it as by a touch of evil magic, and 
though he regained in time, to the superficial eye, some- 
thing of the old airy joyousness, his intimates under- 
stood the brooding sorrow that lay underneath. Even in 
cheerier hours among his friends the old whimsical flow 
of happy life was poisoned at its source. Now and again 
his genial glow would come briefly back, but never with 
the old unquenchable fire, and often in the full current of 
his talk he would fall suddenly silent, and his face would 
be darkened by the shadow of his grief. 


The summer of 1904 the Aldriches spent at York Har- 
bor, for The Crags was ** crowded with ghosts." For- 
tunately for our poet he found an engrossing bit of literary 
work to divert his mind a little from his brooding. The 
project is first mentioned in a letter to a friend, written on 
May 15, 1904: — 

"We got back several days ago from our visit to Sauga- 
tuck and Newport, where we stayed a little longer than we 
had planned and had a pleasant time of it, considering the 
care and memories which we always carry with us, and 
shall have for company the short rest of our lives. Since 
our return we have had a series of guests at Redman Farm 
and endeavored to be as happy as it is possible. On Thurs- 
day Miss Nance O'Neil and her manager are coming out 
to lunch with us and talk dramatic business. Miss O'Neil 
is playing an Italian version of Judith, which she does not 
like, and has fallen in love with my narrative poem of 
"Judith and Holofernes" which she desires me to drama- 
tize for her. I could do it with a great deal of help, but I 
doubt if I shall make the attempt. I've no dramatic ambi- 
tion, or ambition of any kind. If everything I have written 
should be absolutely obhterated I should n't cry." 

As he considered the suggestion, however, it grew in at- 
tractiveness to him, and in the end, though with many 
misgivings, he undertook to carry it out. All through the 
summer he toiled steadily at the play, and in the fall it was 
completed measurably to his satisfaction and put in re- 
hearsal. His correspondence with Miss O'Neil is full of 


evidence of the close and searching care he gave to each 
detail of the piece. A single note from the series will serve 
to show his characteristic method : — 

My dear Miss O'Neil, — You and Mr. Rankin must 
by this time be tired of my emendations and additions, and 
will never want me to write another play for you ! But all 
my best thoughts are after-thoughts. It has been a great 
pleasure to me to dream out a new fine line for your speak- 
ing ; for instance — 

If this be not a dream, her heart is broken ! 

I have another, to follow the words 

The spell is broken. Now to all — farewell 

in Act IV. Please say : — 

The spell is broken ! Now to all — farewell ! 
To votive wreath and music's blandishment! 
From this day forth, etc. 

I can hear you saying it ! . . . 

Yours very truly, T. B. Aldrich. 

The play was produced with success at the Tremont 
Theatre on the night of October 13, 1904. In New York 
it failed to take the taste of the large luxurious audiences 
that throng the Broadway theatres betwixt dinner and 
bedtime. There is a certain pathos in the letter which 
Aldrich wrote to Miss O'Neil on her opening night in New 
York. At least there would be, had he himself taken the 
dramatic venture more seriously : — 


Boston, Dec. 9, 1904. 

Dear Miss O'Neil, — In spite of being in Boston, I 
was with you and the play last night at Daly's! At pre- 
cisely 8.15 p. M. I took up the little book and waited for 
the curtain to rise. Then I followed you through each 
scene and act, making due allowance at the proper places 
for the heartbreaking time it takes Daly's Theatre to 
make an ''instantaneous" change of scenery. So I came 
to the end of the fourth act, where my imagination grew 
blurred. I sat wondering if Judith — "Judith the wilful" 
— again missed her opportunity for a fine dramatic climax. 
I wondered if she stood there inert, with all the people 
around her motionless and dead, while the curtain slowly 
went down on nothing ! Or did she take two or three steps 
towards the wings, and, with a look back over her shoulder, 
cry, "Let no one born of woman follow me ! " Did Achior 
advance, as if to disobey her, and did Bagoas clutch his 
arm to restrain him? And did the crowd lean forward, 
spellbound, standing with out-stretched hands ? If so, the 
curtain went down on a thrilling dramatic tableau. Judith's 
swift exit at the end of Act II — making the whole act a 
success — was not stronger than this would have been. 
Judith need not leave the stage, but she must seem on 
the point of doing so. She said she was going, and she 
ought to go ! What is she waiting for ? Is there more to 
come ? 

All this passed through my mind last night, as I "made 
believe" I was at the play, and so I write it out for you this 



morning. I cannot tell you, Miss Nance O'Neil, what a 
rare pleasure you have given me by your acting of my 
tragedy. I am glad that I did so rash a thing as attempt to 
be a dramatist ! 

Yours sincerely, T. B. Aldrich. 

It may be questioned whether ''Judith of Bethulta" 
under any circumstances could ever have long held the 
boards before American audiences. Yet it was undoubt- 
edly the most notable enterprise in the field of dramatic 
poetry that theatre-goers had seen for a decade or more. 
The poetic vitality of the piece came from the music and 
color with which the poet had invested the old tale of Judith 
and Holofernes many years before. Yet the play was much 
more than a making over of the old purple stuff. It had 
one great dramatic moment, and in many other passages it 
fulfilled Coleridge's chief test of poetry for the stage; it 
was not so much ''thought and passion disguised in the 
dress of poetry," as poetry "hid" in passionate action; 
and the compact movement of the play, embodied in verse 
of a firm yet delicate beauty, gave it the abiding signifi- 
cance which is inseparable from sincere and masterly 

After the enlivening episode of Judith, Aldrich settled 
down again into something of the cheerful routine that 
filled his Hfe in the happier days of the preceding chapter. 
He even recovered something of his inextinguishable youth- 
fulness. "Aldrich was here half an hour ago," wrote Mark 


Twain in 1905, "like a breeze from over the fields, with 
the fragrance still upon his spirit. I am tired waiting for 
that man to grow old." 

The summer of 1905 was spent by Aldrich cruising 
along the coast in his son's yacht, the Bethulia, and tour- 
ing in his automobile, — an engine that always had for 
his imagination something of the mysterious potency of 
Aladdin's carpet. In the winter of 1905 the Aldriches 
went to Egypt, and at Cairo a great happiness came to 
them in the engagement of their surviving son to a New 
England girl who was of their party. "She is young, just 
twenty," — Aldrich wrote, — "I shall have lovely days 
with her." The marriage took place in June. To Mr. 
Gilder, who had written him on the day of it, Aldrich 
replied: "It was very kind and thoughtful of you to 
write to me on a day that meant so much to us. We 
were and are touched by your sympathetic words. Not 
having had our experience, you could not have divined 
our happiness and our sorrow had you not been a poet. 
We rejoice for our son, but we are sad for ourselves." 

November 11, 1906, was Aldrich's seventieth birthday 
and he promised his interviewers "never to let it occur 
again." On the evening of that day he assisted at a dinner 
in New York in honor of his exact coeval, Henry M. Alden, 
editor of "Harper's Magazine," though with characteristic 
diffidence he declined to make a speech. On his return to 
Mt. Vernon Street, he found awaiting him a flood of friendly 
letters and poems from all over the world. Of these poetic 


tributes one of the happiest, from Henry van Dyke, may 
be printed here : — 

To Thomas Bailey Aldrich on his Birthday 

Dear Aldrich, now November's mellow days 

Have brought another Festa round to you, 
You can't refuse the loving-cup of praise 

From friends the passing years have bound to you. 

Here come your Marjorie Daw, your dear Bad Boy, 

Prudence, and Judith the Bethulian, 
And many more, to wish you birthday joy. 

And sunlit hours, and sky caerulean! 

Your children all ! They hurry to your den 
With wreaths of honor they have won for you, 

To merry-make your threescore years and ten. 
You, old? Why, life has just begun for you! 

There 's many a reader whom your silver songs 

And crystal stories cheer in loneliness. 
What though the newer writers come in throngs? 

They cannot spoil your charm of only-ness. 

You've done your work with careful, loving touch, — 

An artist to the very core of you, — 
You've learned the magic spell of "not too much"; 

We read, — and wish that there was more of you. 

And more there is! For while we love your books 

Because their subtle skill is part of you; 
We love you better, for our friendship looks 

Behind them to the human heart of you. 


Perhaps the most memorable of all his birthday letters 
was one from Stedman, his friend for more than fifty years. 
Aldrich's reply was to be his valediction': — 

My dear Edmund, — On getting back home last night 
I found a monument of letters and telegrams on my desk, 
but none of the kindly messages touched me so nearly as 
yours. The six pages were crowded with sacred yesterdays, 
and I wish I had the leisure to tell you what thoughts they 
stirred in me. A hundred sheets like these would not hold 
them. I wish you would come to Boston and spend a week 
with me in Mt. Vernon Street. Later, it would be a precious 
memory to both of us — perhaps to only one of us. What 
do you say? 

I was right glad the other night to see you standing up 
and making a brave speech. / could n't do it ; I should 
have turned into tears if I had made the attempt. Yet 
I would have liked — could I have steered clear of the 
regret of being seventy years old — to speak of my early 
association with "Harper's." It made Alden seem like a 
mere boy. Dr. Guernsey was the editor on whose rejec- 
tions I cut my literary eye-teeth. He long ago offered him- 
self for publication elsewhere, and I trust that he was 
accepted, though he never, I believe, took anything of 
mine. He was followed by Nordhoff, — if I 've spelt him 
correctly, — who could n't have been as good an editor, for 
he always held on to my manuscript. Then came Alden. 
His editorship has lasted a lifetime. But I must end this. 


I shall be eighty years old before I have thanked every- 

Your affectionate friend, Tom. 

Just before his own birthday the committee in charge of 
the celebration of the centenary of Longfellow's birth in- 
vited Aldrich to prepare a poem for the occasion, and the 
invitation came to him in one of Mr. Norton's characteristic 
notes. At first the undertaking seemed impossible, but as 
he turned again and again to the stimulating phrases of 
the invitation, and pondered the life of the poet who had 
been his earliest ideal, and for so long his friend, the 
singing impulse came, and he completed the brief, but 
nobly eloquent, poem that now with a fine fitness stands 
at the end of his own poetic works. 

The poem was finished early in January, 1907. In the 
reaction from his labor Aldrich was weary and a little sad. 
On January 4, he wrote a characteristic letter to a younger 
friend who was mourning for the death of his wife, — a 
friend whom he had never seen, and knew only by corre- 
spondence : — 

" I have sat here idly all the morning in my study with 
as much sadness as if the wife you love and have lost had 
been a familiar and dear presence at our fireside. Your 
letter somehow brought her very close to us — I say to us, 
for Mrs. Aldrich, too, with the quick sympathy of noble 
women, was deeply touched by the grief she saw in this 
separation. She has, I believe, written a few words to you. 


knowing that tender words can soothe, though they may 
not heal such wounds as yours. The parting of those who 
love is inevitable, soon or late. I have long brooded upon 
this. Perhaps you will recall a poem of mine entitled 'A 
Shadow of the Night.' There is a passage here and there 
that may possibly appeal to you. In my dream I did not, 
as I do in real life to-day, sorrow for an * unknown dead 
woman.' " 

Three weeks later he wrote to Mr. Woodberry the last 
of all his letters : — 

59 Mount Vernon Street, Jan'y 29, 1907. 

Dear Woodberry, — I have just finished reading your 
"Emerson." It is a beautiful book, and is to be rated with 
your finest critical work. How fine I consider that, you 
know of old. I was freshly impressed, by your statement, 
of the gray atmosphere and severe surroundings of Emer- 
son's life. What a salted-down and austere existence it was! 
How few luxuries in it ! Emerson's mind would have been 
enriched if he could have had more terrapin and less fish- 

I had an idea — picture me with one ! — that you would 
look in on me at old 59 during the prevalence of your 
Lowell lectures, none of which I could attend because of 
influenzas, dinners, guests, and other earthly embarrass- 
ments. I could have said a hundred things for you to dis- 
agree with, and shown you a phenomenon in the shape of 
a short poem, the first rhyme I have written since my boy 


died, three years ago. I have not known a whole happy 
day in that time. 

I have frequently wondered how life was going with you. 
If ever you wish to come and tell me, there is a cigar, or a 
pipe with perfect draught, awaiting you. 

Yours sincerely, T. B. Aldrich. 

Two days later, on January 31, with no premonitory 
consciousness of anything but perfect health, he fell sud- 
denly ill, and a serious operation was deemed necessary. 
He was taken at once to a hospital and the operation was 
performed. It was apparently wholly successful, but 
strength was slow in returning, and the end began to be in 
doubt. For six weeks he lingered, bearing his painful days 
and nights with cheerful courage and a sweet and patient 
self-effacement. All his thought was centred in the effort 
to keep from the one dearest to him the foreboding that 
was becoming a certainty to him. To a friend who sat by 
his side he said, " For myself I regard death merely as the 
passing shadow on a flower.". 

On March 17 he expressed a wish to be taken home, and 
there on March 19, in the grayness of the deepening twi- 
light, the end came. He met death as he had met Hfe, 
bravely and serenely, fully conscious of the loosening of 
the cords that held him to the earth. With his last look 
and smile he said, "In spite of all, I am going to sleep ; put 
out the lights"; and for those who loved him darkness 


In the Arlington Street Church, three days later, the 
first day of spring, were held impressive funeral services, 
of a simple dignity and beauty befitting a poet's passing. 
At the close was read the poem, written so short a time 
before for the centenary of Longfellow : — 

Above his grave the grass and snow 
Their soft antiphonal strophes write : 
Moonrise and daybreak come and go: 
Summer by summer on the height 
The thrushes find melodious breath. 
Here let no vagrant winds that blow 
Across the spaces of the night 
Whisper of death. 

They do not die who leave their thought 

Imprinted on some deathless page. 
Themselves may pass; the spell they wrought 

Endures on earth from age to age. 
And thou, whose voice but yesterday 

Fell upon charmed listening ears, 

Thou shalt not know the touch of years; 
Thou boldest time and chance at bay. 

Thou livest in thy living word 

As when its cadence first was heard. 
O gracious Poet and benign, 

BelovM presence ! now as then 

Thou standest by the hearths of men. 
Their fireside joys and griefs are thine ; 

Thou speakest to them of their dead. 

They listen and are comforted. 
They break the bread and pour the wine 
Of life with thee, as in those days 

Men saw thee passing on the street 


Beneath the elms — O reverend feet 
That walk in far celestial ways! 

In the presence of his family and many of his old com- 
rades in the life of letters, he was buried in Mount Auburn 
Cemetery beside his boy. 


"Enamored architect of airy rhyme." 

THOUGH we have taken account in the preceding 
pages of all, or nearly all, of Aldrich's short stories 
and novels, there is, perhaps, no better way to begin to 
speak of his poetry than to say a qualifying word or two of 
his prose ; for wide as are the fields that lie between *' Go- 
liath" and ''Fredericksburg," between, say, "Identity" 
and "The Story of a Bad Boy," they are all unmistakably 
part and parcel of the same Parnassian estate. His poetic 
art was in a peculiar way the quintessence of his prose 
manner, and the one without the other loses something 
in relief and distinction. 

Writing many years ago to Mr. Howells, concerning one 
of the earlier novels of Mr. Henry James, then just pub- 
lished, Aldrich said: "Henry James has a plump and rosy 
prose style, and lots of observation. I envy him the easy 
grace with which he slips his pen through forty or fifty 
miles of aristocratic landscape." Aldrich's own prose style 
was certainly neither plump nor rosy. Rather it was 
slender, with a spare, athletic slenderness, and whatever 
ruddiness of complexion it exhibited was that of Psyche's 
"cheek's cold rose." Opulence of any sort, whether of 

O ^"' t- o t.N- \ tVv k\i vjlv c 



"observation" or of expression, was never an attribute of 
his work. He was of the Flauberts, not of the Balzacs; his 
prose was the prose of talent rather than of genius ; but it 
would be hard to find an English author who has made 
more of his native endowment. Certainly no American 
story-writer, not excepting Poe or Hawthorne, has had a 
cooler understanding of the mechanics of story- writing, or 
written a Hghter, chaster, more elegant prose style. Pure 
English was his passion. He would rather, as he often 
said, "be censured in pure Enghsh than praised in bad." 
And his entire literary life was a protest against the easy- 
going methods of composition that he saw sowing the seeds 
of corruption in the writings of increasing numbers of his 
contemporaries. "It is so easy," he would say, "to write 
sloppily 1" 

His own prose was considered and refined to the last 
degree. He composed cautiously, making his way slowly 
and securely from phrase to phrase, from sentence to sen- 
tence, from paragraph to paragraph. The afflatus that 
descends at times even upon the writer of prose he dis- 
trusted, and confined with steady fingers upon the stops. 
His revision was more cautious still. The first draft would 
be interlined and erased and interlined again, until it be- 
came a puzzle to all eyes but his. Then it would be copied 
out fairly in his fine architectural hand, and the process 
repeated. Often, when a manuscript had been accepted 
by some magazine, he would recall it and send another 
draft, elaborately revised, in its place. His proof he casti- 


gated with equal thoroughness. But his revision was 
creative as well as critical, and often some choice fehcity 
of vivid phrase made its first appearance, to the despair of 
the printer, in "foundry proof." 

But it is easy to concentrate one's attention too exclu- 
sively upon the technical perfection of Aldrich's prose. 
The cool, poHshed page with its daintiness and gayety, its 
peculiar politeness, is touched with the breath of poesy. 
This is its distinction from the work of other talented 
writers of correct prose, and the elusive source of its quality 
and charm. Take, for an example, the few pages in ''The 
Story of a Bad Boy " that tell of the death of Binny Wal- 
lace. The narrative is spare, and simple, almost meagre 
in its restraint. Yet it produces a breadth and depth of 
poignant impression that can spring only from the poetic 
tenderness of its inspiration. It is always so when he is at 
his best in prose. The women in his novels, to take an- 
other instance, are like the girls of an Horatian poet, like 
the blonde and brunette pair in his own "Corydon," not 
so much dramatized as lyrically painted with light swift 
touches; yet Prudence Palfrey, Margaret Slocum in "The 
Stillwater Tragedy," and the fair distraught young Queen 
of Sheba dwell in our memories with a charming freshness 
of personality, with a sweet and virginal fragrance, that 
the analytical novelist must vainly admire. 

Perhaps Aldrich's most characteristic group of short 
stories is that in which the imaginative vitaHty Hes in the 
shock of surprise at the end : " Marjorie Daw," " Mademoi- 


selle Olympe Zabriski," "A Struggle for Life," "Two Bites 
at a Cherry," ''GoHath," ''His Dying Words," ''A Sea 
Turn," and "Thomas Phipps," all fall under this rubric. 
Whether such stories as these have the potency of en- 
during life in them may be doubted. You cannot surprise 
the same reader with the same surprise twice. Yet these 
stories bear re-reading better than any others of this type 
that can readily be recalled. Their airy blandness of execu- 
tion gives a pleasure of which the reader does not easily 
tire, and the surprise is never a purely farcical. Jack-in- 
the-box affair. It springs always from some keen, humor- 
ous perception of the eternal ironies of character and cir- 
cumstance in this ironic world. When beside these we 
place such fantasies as "The Chevalier de Resseguier," 
"Pere Antoine's Date-Palm," "A Midnight Fantasy," 
and "His Grace the Duke," where the faculties of poet 
and humorist are happily wedded in whimsical union, and 
those other tales, "Quite So," "The White Feather," and 
"For Bravery on the Field of Battle," where old flashlight 
memories of the war inspire the tragic note, we have a 
series of stories that for variety and pleasurableness do 
not suffer greatly in comparison with any similar collection 
in the language. Judged by equally high standards, the 
three novels are less successful and seem less likely to be 
read as ruinous time goes on. They lack the amplitude of 
life that makes a work of fiction live. But "The Story of a 
Bad Boy," that tender, humorous, wholly characteristic 
and wholly engaging book, is as secure as anything can be 


of a permanent place in the affection of readers old and 

In writing of Aldrich's prose, however much one may 
admire it, one is always a little conscious of putting the 
best foot foremost. But when we come to speak of his 
poetry reservations vanish. It is no longer a question of 
*'best foot," of right hand or left. We have to deal with a 
compact body of verse wherein the author has forestalled 
reservation by discarding all but his best, leaving for our 
study and lasting enjoyment a slender volume bearing on 
every page the stamp of a blithe perfection. 

No poet in a century has illustrated so well as Aldrich the 
truth of Michel Angelo's dictum, that "art is the purga- 
tion of superfluities." Throughout his poetic life he re- 
lentlessly purged his work of "superfluities," not only of 
phrase and image, of ornaments and excursions, of stanzas 
and entire poems, but even of subtler, more adhesive super- 
fluities of mood and impulse. We shall better comprehend 
the pecuHar potency of the brilliant remainder, if we recall 
for the moment the successive mutations and chastenings 
of his poetic product. The survey will show us that 

" 'T is more to guide than spur the Muse's steed, 
Restrain his fury than provoke his speed." 

Like all juvenile poets, Aldrich in his earliest lispings in 
numbers kept his eye upon the copy set him by his masters. 
As we have already seen, Tennyson and Longfellow, 
Chatterton and Poe, even Willis, shed the golden air of 


poesy around the world that Tom Bailey saw with his 
twinkling eyes, and set it vibrating with the cadences of 
their song. So, quite naturally, it is the reflection of their 
moods and the echo of their melodies that we find in his 
first little book of verse, ''The Bells." Then, with his 
majority, came the boy's effort to find his own feet. In 
"The Course of True Love never Did Run Smooth" he 
turned away from the popular poets of the day, back to 
the "Arabian Nights" of his boyish memories and found 
a vein that, save for some similar experimentation by 
Stoddard, had no parallel in contemporary verse. Yet even 
so early as this we can see the awakening of his amazing 
faculty of self-criticism. From "The Bells" not a single 
piece went into any later collection, and only two fragments 
of "The Course of True Love" were preserved; while few 
of the numerous pieces in the manner of Willis that he 
was printing in the "Atlas," the "Knickerbocker," and 
the "Saturday Press" ever went between covers at all. 

In the volumes of 1859 and 1861 we begin to discover 
the assured touch of a maturing hand. The former con- 
tained eight poems that have gone into his collected works, 
the latter, a smaller volume, six. With the Carleton Blue 
and Gold edition of 1863 the number is increased to twenty, 
forty per cent of the whole number ; though in the exotic, 
even macaberesque, flavor of the remainder we can still see 
the survival of that struggling duality of temperament, 
Puck versus Ariel, that was to be reconciled later in such 
memorably individual poetic achievement. With the 1865 


volume Aldrich's progress along the path to perfection is 
still more clearly marked, both by the discards and by the 
additions; while a study of the verbal changes is, as we 
shall presently see, a revelation of the subtler processes of 
poetic style. From this point onward Aldrich's poetic evo- 
lution was finely consistent. He published slim volume 
after slim tantalizing volume, each with its masterly yet 
seemingly artless arrangement, its various charm. His 
talent came to its full flowering in the seventies and early 
eighties, between, say, his thirty-fifth and his fiftieth year. 
Yet it lasted on into his last years with an evenness that 
has seldom been seen in the later work of lyric poets. 
The brief, poignant, unforgetable poems that are per- 
haps the most characteristic of all his pieces, and seem 
so secure of an age-long anthological life, were the work 
of his prime; but the product of his later years, in such 
poems as "Elmwood," "Unguarded Gates," the "Shaw 
Memorial Ode," and "Longfellow," showed little abate- 
ment of his fine faculty and faultless craftsmanship. In 
1896 he put his collected poetic works into two volumes, 
rejecting enough poems, and of sufficient quality, to make 
the reputations of a half dozen minor bards. Again, in 
1906, he made a final selection of "Songs and Sonnets," 
retaining only those pieces which at once approached 
nearest to his own difficult standard of perfection, and had 
shown in the special favor they had found with true lovers 
of poetry some intimations of immortality. 
This last little volume is the best text for the study of 


the quintessential quality of Aldrich's art. To know the 
range of his genius we must make frequent reference to the 
two volumes of the Riverside edition, and even to some of 
the admirable and charming poems that were rejected by 
his ruthless "Messrs. Knife, File and Co." from that col- 
lection; but between the covers of the "Songs and Son- 
nets" we have his staunchest poetic argosy, its precious 
freight stowed with singular neatness for the voyage down 
the years. 

If there is any better way of arriving at an appreciation 
of the essential quality of a body of poetry than to consider 
first its style, and next its substance, it has still to be dis- 
covered. Yet the finer the poet, the subtler will be the re- 
lation between the two, the more delicate and dangerous 
the affair of regarding them separately. With Aldrich we 
must never figure to ourselves that the style is a woven 
garment of words for the adornment of the thought : it is 

" the magic touch that gives 
The formless thought the grace whereby it lives." 

In his youth the sensuous side of Aldrich's poetic tem- 
perament, the source from which came the quality of 
his poetic style, was distinctly that of the impressionist. 
As Holmes pointed out to him, he loved too well "the 
fragrance of certain words," was too easily pleased with 
"vanilla- flavored adjectives and patchouli-scented parti- 
ciples." Typical of much of his early work were three 
lines from "When the Sultan goes to Ispahan," that were 



omitted from the later editions, even though Holmes had 
admired them : — 

"And to the low voluptuous swoons 
Of music rise and fall the moons 
Of their full brown bosoms." 

But as he matured in character and art this sensuous- 
ness of tone, this interest in " low voluptuous swoons," 
became so mingled and blended with other traits of his 
manner that it ceased to ''thump," — as painters say 
of too intense a color, — and became merely one of the 
many contributive elements of his poetic style; and the 
perfumed passages in the earlier pieces were deleted. 

Equally illuminative of his poetic method, and of the 
quality of his mature poetic style, are the changes that he 
made in the stanzaic form of certain pieces. Compare, for 
a single example, the first two stanzas of "The Queen's 
Ride " as they stand in the volume of 1863 and in the River- 
side edition. 


'T is that fair time of the year, 

Lady mine, 
When the stately Guinevere, 
In her sea-green robe and hood 
Went a-riding through the wood, 

Lady mine. 

And as the Queen did ride, 

Lady mine. 
Sir Launcelot at her side 
Laughed and chatted, bending over, 
Half her friend and all her lover ! 

Lady mine. 

Riverside Edition 
'T is that fair time of year, 
When stately Guinevere, 
In her sea-green robe and hood, 
Went a-riding through the wood. 

And as the Queen did ride. 
Sir Launcelot at her side 
Laughed and chatted, bending 

Half her friend and all her lover. 


Few are the poets who have been able to command such 
detachment from their work as to play havoc like this 
with the tune in which a poem was first conceived. Yet 
here by the mere omission of the tinkling refrain a piece 
that is quite devoid of distinction comes to have a keen 
and characteristic charm of pure and simple melody. 

Pure melody indeed is the chief musical quality of Al- 
drich's poetic style. Symphonic rhythms, large harmonies 
of vowels, and subtle sequences of consonantal tone are rare 
in his work. In reading his poems aloud there is little to 
tempt us to cantillation or intoning. Rather they demand, 
even in such Elizabethan flights of song as ''Imogen" 
or "Forever and a Day," a quiet voice moved only by the 
tender passion of the poet's mood, and guided, not by any 
elaborately contrived musical structure, but by the lucid 
meaning of his words. 

In short, the essential attribute of Aldrich's poetic style, 
externally considered, is the delicacy and precision of his 
phrasing. His poetic diction is distinguished by the ab- 
sence, not only of clear words that just miss the gold, but 
even of those vague "poetic" words that most modern 
poets have employed for the sake of reminiscent suggestion, 
to trail across the page nebulous clouds of an ancient 

Here again some of the verbal changes from the edition 
of 1863 will illustrate the point. 

In "The Crescent and the Cross," the poet says of the 
former : — 


"It gives me dreams of battles, and the woes 
Of women shut in hushed seraglios." 

In later editions the final phrase was changed to "dim 
seraglios," shortening the Tennysonian echo,^ avoiding 
the unpleasing sibilance of "hushed," following "shut," 
and flashing more vividly upon our inner eye pictures of 
the dusky corridors and courts of the palaces of Stam- 
boul. Perhaps, too, the poet's sense of humor may have 
led him to question the veracity of "hushed" as applied 
to a seraglio. Indeed his humor, that persistent piece of 
Tom Bailey in him, was one of the prime factors in 
Aldrich's cool and collected mastery of poetic style. 

"Pampinea," or "Pampina" as it later became, is an- 
other fruitful source of stylistic instruction. How telling, 
for instance, is the advantage gained by the slight change 

"Mossy reefs and salty caves," 

"Dripping reefs and salty caves" ; 

or of 

"The dewy slim chameleons run 
Through twenty colors in the sun," 


"The timid, slim chameleons run," etc.; 

* "Scaffolds, still sheets of water, divers woes. 
Ranges of glimmering vaults with iron grates. 
And hushed seraglios." 

A Dream of Fair Women. 


or, in the first stanza of "Piscataqua River, '^ 

"Thou singest by the gleaming isles, 
By woods and fields of com, 
Thou singest, and the heaven smiles 
Upon my birthday morn." 

the change of "heaven," in the penultimate line, to "sun- 

But betterments of this sort are legion, and to enumerate 
them would involve the printing in parallel columns of the 
earliest, intermediate, and latest versions of nearly every 
poem that Aldrich ever wrote. The truth is that the tireless 
search for the poetic mot juste was the secret of Aldrich's 
power so far as his power inhered in poetic style. When he 
came to the concluding stanza of "Lynn Terrace," one of 
the finest of his poems, he brooded for days to find the one 
inevitable word to go with "sea-gull." After trying and 
rejecting scores of applicants for the position, he found it 
in the unexpected word "petulant," which gives the last 
lively touch of felicity to a perfect stanza : — 

"For me the clouds; the ships sail by for me; 
For me the petulant sea-gull takes its flight; 
And mine the tender moonrise on the sea, 
And hollow caves of night." 

Yet with all his anxious search for the inevitable phrase, 
and delicate blending of the flavors, the radical rather than 
the associational flavors, of choice words, Aldrich never 
fell into the cold impersonality that so often goes with 
extreme polish, whether in manners or in poetic style. He 
knew well when to break the smooth lapse of his verse with 


the seemingly frank and unpremeditated line, the sudden 
smile. His finest poems may be as ''polished as the bosom 
of a star," but they are never cold and remote, — 

"Up above the world so high 
Like a diamond in the sky." 

If they suggest the diamond in their exquisite cutting, their 
delicate fire and rainbow lights, their imperishability, it is 
always a diamond warm from the breast of beauty. 

Beauty was the ideal and principle of Aldrich's poetry 
to an extent that is rare among modern poets with their 
perturbing preoccupations, philosophic, religious, or politi- 
cal, and if we turn from the external and technical beauty 
of form to the inspiring beauty of substance we shall ap- 
proach more nearly to a perfect appreciation of its spirit. 
But first we must take a leaf from the books of the psy- 
chologists and remember that "a poem" is not a mere 
arrangement of printed words on a white page, or even a 
glowing mood in a poet's mind. The actual poem is 
something that takes place in us when we read the printed 
words on the white page, the succession of experiences, 
sounds, images, memories, thoughts, emotions, that we 
enjoy when we are reading sympathetically : — 

"To the sea-shell's spiral round 
'T is your heart that brings the sound : 
The soft sea murmurs that you hear 
Within, are captured from your ear. 

You do poets and their song 
A grievous wrong, 


If your soul does not bring 

To their high imagining 

As much beauty as they sing." 

We shall best arrive at the heart of Aldrich's poetry if we 
first notice that which is least characteristic in the sub- 
stance of his work, and then proceed to that which is most 
peculiarly his own. In so doing we shall advance along a 
constantly ascending path of poetic power, bringing with 
us, we may hope, the proper series of sensitized plates in 
our own minds upon which the actual "poems" are to be 

Perhaps Aldrich's least characteristic work is in his 
longer narrative pieces. *' Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book," 
"The Legend of Ara-Coeli," "Judith and Holofernes," 
and " Wyndham Towers " are fine examples of an accom- 
plished poetic art, but there is little in their inspiration that 
might not be found in the work of any other poet of an 
equal grade of talent. The same thing is true, though in a 
less degree, of such expressions of national and patriotic 
feeling as "Unguarded Gates," "Spring in New England," 
or the "Shaw Memorial Ode." All are sincere and ad- 
mirable compositions, but they bear the stamp of the 
author's talent, rather than of his genius. Lowell might 
have written them, or even a less than Lowell. 

We first begin to find poetic substance that is unmis- 
takably stamped with the impress of the poet's personality 
in a group of poems in celebration of places that he loved. 
In "Piscataqua River" and "Lynn Terrace" we have the 


authentic accent of an individual voice and manner. From 
these it is but a step along the path of the characteristic to 
another group of what, for want of a better name, may be 
called "urbane" poems: "The Flight of the Goddess," 
"Latakia," "Lines on an Intaglio Head of Minerva," 
"Amontillado," "Pepita," and "Corydon." Here we have 
a flavor that cannot be described by any word but "Al- 
drichian." There is a certain kinship between them and 
the poems of Thackeray and Praed, a closer one, per- 
haps, with Mr. Dobson's exquisite Muse, but the touch 
is at once lighter and firmer and in a certain sense more 
poetical. Nowhere else in English poetry is there a better 
chemical union of the elements of poetic fancy and humor. 
Here at last, as in the companion group of fantasies in 
prose, Tom Bailey and the author of " The Ballad of 
Baby Bell" are at peace. 

Still more of our poet's friendly heart is in his series of 
personal and memorial poems. "Bayard Taylor," "Elm- 
wood," "The Sailing of the Autocrat," and "Sargent's 
Portrait of Edwin Booth" belong with Lowell's " Agassiz," 
Longfellow's "Three Friends of Mine," and Whitman's 
"Captain, my Captain," among the most sincere and elo- 
quent elegiac poems in American literature. We read 
them, not as we read "Lycidas," or "Thyrsis," or " Adon- 
ais" or the other elegies that take their inspiration from 
poets dead long ago in Sicily, with admiration for the per- 
fect art, " most musical, most melancholy," but rather, 
if we bring to them a heart capable of comprehending 


the old emotion of friendship, with a catching at the 
throat, with a pleasure that is half pain. 

On these lower stages of the ascent we see most clearly 
the range and variety of Aldrich's poetry. The poems that 
have been already enumerated are a sufficient answer to 
the critics of poetry who have thought him but a skilled 
carver of poetic cherry-stones. Yet there is this much of 
truth in the common view : as we go on up the path of the 
characteristic the way narrows. In his sonnets there are 
still many differing types of poetic power. From "Fred- 
ericksburg," with its calm and beautiful beginning, its 
tragic and tremendous close, to the quiet, thrilling perfec- 
tion of "Sleep," is a sufficient range for any sonneteer. 
But here we have not quite arrived at the summit, though 
we are within view of it. The most vitally characteristic, 
and we may believe the most enduring poems of Aldrich, 
the poems in which we have at once his genius in its purest 
intensity, and his art in its most nice perfection, are what 
we may call the anthology poems, like "Nocturne," "Pala- 
bras Carinosas," "Two Songs from the Persian," "For- 
ever and a Day," and, still more importantly, that series of 
tiny pieces of which no other American poet could con- 
ceivably have written a single one: "Snowflake," "Appari- 
tions," "Knowledge," "An Untimely Thought," "Des- 
tiny," "Identity," "Nameless Pain," "A Winter Piece," 
"Seeming Defeat," "Rencontre," "One White Rose," 
"Prescience," "Like Crusoe, walking by the Lonely 
Strand," "A Mood," "Memory," "Necromancy," "Lost 


Art," ''I'll not confer with Sorrow," "Pillared Arch and 
Sculptured Tower," ''Imogen," — their very titles are 
poems ! 

These are the pieces that we must treasure in our memo- 
ries and re-create in our hearts if we would really know 
Aldrich. Let us take "Memory," not because it is the 
most striking of the group, but rather because it is super- 
ficially the least so, and see what can be the secret of 
its haunting charm : — 

"My mind lets go a thousand things, 
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings, 
And yet recalls the very hour — 
■ 'T was noon by yonder village tower, 
And on the last blue noon in May — 
The wind came briskly up this way, 
Crisping the brook beside the road; 
Then, pausing here, set down its load 
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly 
Two petals from that wild-rose tree." 

This in its exquisite simplicity is art of a sort that is rare 
in the poetry of the Western world. It is the art, almost, 
of the Japanese painter who can make a spray of apple- 
blossoms stir the deep heart of man. In such poems as 
this Aldrich embodies only the final moment when the 
golden gong strikes and the mystic miracle occurs. There 
is never any preHminary chanting; no preluding incanta- 
tion of woven paces and of waving arms. In his long lei- 
surely days he had a singular sense for high moments, for 
vivid, fleeting impressions and sudden revelations. He by 

^^ o^xA\.v-. 

^V^ VV' V ^^0.. AVvv '».V^^,.^ - 




no means ** burned always with a hard gem-like flame." 
The genial glow of whimsical fancy that was habitual with 
him was but occasionally superheated into this pure in- 
tensity of light. He never forced, but always waited for 
the mood. When it came it was brief and poignant and 
memorable. Like the lark that sings in Dante's " Para- 
dise," he sang and then was silent — contented with the 
sweetness sung before : 

"Qual lodoletta che in aere si spazia 
Prima cantando, e poi tace contenta 
Dell' ultima dolcezza che la sazia." 

But whence comes the ghostly response in the reader's 
mind to such poems as this ? Is not the answer suggested in 
a line that stands just across the page from " Memory " : — 

"Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness"? 

The poem awakens in us the sadness that attends all deli- 
cate beauty, yet its fairy weight plumbs a deeper sea than 
that. This swift, vivid impression of evanescent sound and 
scent and color touches us as with an enchanter's wand, 
sealing our eyes for the moment to the world we know, 
filling our mood with the dim sense of loss, and wistful- 
ness for the irrevocable years. Nor is the mood that is 
evoked personal so much as ancestral, racial. The sharp, 
sweet odor of the pine, the pale loveHness of drifting 
petals, smite our souls with the thrill of vanished springs, 
till we feel in our very blood the soft shuddering of the 
millions of our race that have trembled with the beauty 
of a myriad Mays. 


Lest all this seem but a vague and visionary dream, let 
us see how this poem moved one reader who could bring 
his own "high beauty" to its enjoyment. Whittier, writ- 
ing to a friend, said of it : — 

" Of course thee^s read Aldrich's new bit which he calls 
'Memory,' and equally of course it gives thee a pleasure 
that is very near pain in its intensity. Aldrich is a man of 
the world, I must admit that, but he is a poet first of all, a 
truer poet than most of us versifiers." And the same friend 
records : — 

'*I spent a week with Whittier at Hampton Falls only a 
short time before the shadow that pursues us all overtook 
him. Every evening he asked me to repeat to him certain 
short poems, often 'Destiny,' and once even 'that auda- 
cious "Identity,"' as he called it; but at the end he invari- 
ably said, 'Now thee knows without my saying so that I 
want "Memory," ' and with his wonderful far-off gaze he 
always repeated after me : — • 

"'Two petals from that wild-rose tree.'" 

The lasting significance of Aldrich's poetry lies in such 
pieces as this. Psychology, metaphysics were unknown 
lands to him. Yet with his fine sensitiveness, his clear and 
candid mind, he was no stranger to some of the subtlest 
thoughts, the most wayward and wistful moods of his 
moody age. This alone would not give him his peculiar 
distinction. Other men have been more sensitive to the 
age-spirit, more "representative." But when Aldrich went 
to embody the eerie impulse in verse the miracle hap- 


pened. He immortalized the moment's exquisite pang of 
memory or joy or foreboding, not in shadowy, but in 
crystalline verse. Impulses the most romantic in the world 
he guided by an instinct that was purely classic in its 
inspired poise. His most characteristic work is that in 
which the terse polish of an epigram but makes more 
memorable the jrisson, the haunting, heart- searching thrill 
of the sudden thought. 

In a complex and quizzical age, an age when 

" The Muse in alien ways remote 
Goes wandering," 

Aldrich, by the miracle of genius, and by his mastery 
of his art, sang of beautiful and pleasant and sad things 
as simply as an Elizabethan or a Greek singer of the 
Anthology. For those who love poetry as a fine art, who 
read it for pure delight, his place in our literature is 
unique and secure. 



The Bells. A Collection of Chimes. New York: 
/. C. Derby, 

1 2 mo, cloth, pp. 144. 



Prelude to the Steeple of St. Ayne 

The Steeple of St. Ayne 


H. W. L. 

Crescent City at Night 

Song of a Heart 

The Angel 


Maude of Allinggale 

To Marie 

The Knight of Poesy 

A Christmas Chime 


* This bibliography of the original editions of Aldrich's writings is 
largely based upon that compiled and printed in The Book-Buyer for 
September, 1900, by Mr. Ernest Dressel North, to whose kindness I am 
indebted for permission so to use it. I have, however, made a few al- 
terations and additions, and for the purposes of this book somewhat 
changed the form of the entries. Any errors or omissions that appear 
must be laid at my door. 


Drip, Drip, Drip 


A Madrigal 

I Might Have Been 

4c 4( * 4: 

The Two Cities 

The Night Wind 


Forever and Forever 

The Little Witches at the Crossings 


The Night Rain 






About a Tiny Giri 

The Gentle Hand 

The Three Conceits 


To Sue 


With the Stars and the Stripes around Him 

The Lachrymose 

The Old House 

My Highland Mary 

Twilight Idyl 

The Golden Island 

The Bard 


Lilly an 

IV Scene of Blanchette 

Night Scene 



Daisy's Necklace and what came of It. A Literary 
Episode. New York : Derby d^ Jackson. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 226. 


The Course of True Love never did Run Smooth. 

New York : Rudd 6* Carleton. 
1 2 mo, cloth, pp. 41. 



The Caliph Muses 

How it struck the Lovers 

The Wedding Fete 

How the Little Maiden Wept 

How Giaffer passed the Night 

Hearts and Crowns 

The Af rites give Giaffer a Hint 

In the Pavilion 


The Ballad of Babie Bell, and Other Poems. New 
York : Rudd df Carleton, 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 117. 


The Ballad of Babie Bell 
Cloth of Gold 


The Faded Violet 

My North and South 

The Ghost's Lady 

We Knew it would Rain 

After the Rain 

A Ballad 

Last Night and To-night 

Tiger Lilies 

The Betrothal 

Madame, as you Pass Us By 

The Merry Bells Shall Ring 


Little Maud 


Nameless Pain 

The Moorland 

At the Dead House 


Palabras Carinosas 

I Sat Beside You While You Slept 


In the Woods 




It was a Knight of Aragon 

When the Sultan goes to Ispahan 



A Ballad of Nantucket 

The Spendthrift's Feast 

A Pastoral Hymn to the Fairies 

The Unforgiven 

A Poet's Grave 


Invocation to Sleep 

A Great Man's Death 

The Blue-bells of New England 

A Legend of Elsinore 

Passing St. Helena 

The Set of Turquoise 



Hassan's Music 
Fairy Punishment 


Pampinea, and Other Poems. New. York: Rudd b* 

i2mo, doth, pp. 72. 

The title on the cover of this volume was "Poems of a 




The Tragedy 

Two Leaves from a Play 

Kathie Morris 



The Crescent and the Cross 


Piscataqua River 

The Lunch 





The Robin 

In the Old Church Tower 



The Man and the Hour 

Our Colors at Fort Sumter 


Out of His Head. A Romance. New York: G. W. 


i2mo, cloth, pp. 226. 


Poems. With Portrait. New York: G. W, Carleton, 
32 mo, cloth, pp. 161 


Cloth of Gold 

Crescent and Cross 

The Sheik's Welcome 

The Unforgiven 

Dressing the Bride 

Two Songs from the Persian 

Tiger Lilies 


It was a Knight of Aragon 

When the Sultan goes to Ispahan 


A Prelude 


A Turkish Legend 


The Faded Violet 


The Lunch 

Before the Rain 

After the Rain 


The Blue-bells of New England 

The Moorland 

Nora McCarthy 

Nameless Pain 

The Girls 

Murder Done 



Palabras Carifiosas 

Little Maud 



The Poet 

The Robin 

The Ballad of Babie Bell 

Piscataqua River 


Ballad of Nantucket 

The Tragedy 



A Great Man's Death 


Invocation to Sleep 

Sea Drift 



The Queen's Ride 


The Set of Turquoise 




The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Boston 
Ticknor 6^ Fields, 
32mo, cloth, pp. 240. 


Prologue to Lih'an 

Judith in the Tower 

The Camp of Ashur 

The Flight 

Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book 

Garnaut Hall 

Lady of Castei Notre 



Robin Badfellow 

A Lady of Loch-Ine 

December, 1863 

Cloth of Gold 

The Crescent and Cross 

The Sheik's Welcome 

The Unforgiven 

Dressing the Bride 

Two Songs from the Persian 

Tiger Lilies 

The Sultana 

It was a Knight of Aragon 


When the Sultan goes to Ispahan 



Turkish Legend 

The Faded Violet 



The Lunch 

Before the Rain 

After the Rain 


The Blue-bells of New England 

Nora McCarthy 

The Moorland 

Nameless Pain 

The Girls 

Murder Done 



Palabras Carinosas 

Little Maud 

At the Morgue 



The Poet 

The Robin 

Ballad of Babie Bell 

Piscataqua River 


A Ballad of Nantucket 

The Tragedy 



A Great Man's Death 


Kathie Morris 


Invocation to Sleep 

Sea Drift 

The Queen's Ride 


The Set of Turquois 


At Bay Ridge, L. I. 

Pursuit and Possession 

The Amulet 






Pere Antoine's Date-Palm. Privately printed by 
Welch, Bigelow &^ Co., Cambridge. 
8vo, pp. 20. 
Twenty copies printed. 


Pansy's Wish. A Christmas Fantasy with a Moral. 
Boston: Marion 6* Co. 
8vo, pp. 8. 

Printed by Marion Talbot and Sister, daughters of Dr. 
I. T. Talbot, and sold at a fair in Boston. 

The Story of a Bad Boy. Illustrated. Boston: Fields, 
Osgood &^ Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 261. 



Jubilee Days.* (Sixteen numbers.) Boston: James R. 
Osgood 6^ Co. 
4to, pp. 68. 

Marjorie Daw and Other People. Boston: /. R. 

Osgood 6^ Co. 

1 2 mo, cloth, pp. 272. 


Cloth of Gold, and Other Poems. Boston: James 
R. Osgood 6* Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 184. 


The Crescent and Cross 
The Sheik's Welcome 
The Unforgiven 
Dressing the Bride 
Two Songs from the Persian 
The Sultana 

When the Sultan goes to Ispahan 
A Prelude 
A Turkish Legend 

^ See p. 191. 


Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book 

The Lady of Castelnore 





The Faded Violet 


The Lunch 

Before the Rain 

After the Rain 


The Bluebells of New England 

Nameless Pain 

At . Two-and-Twenty 


Palabras Carinosas 







Baby Bell 

Piscataqua River 

The Tragedy 




Invocation to Sleep 


The Queen's Ride 

In the Old Church Tower 

The Metempsychosis 




At Bay Ridge, Long Island 

Pursuit and Possession 




By the Potomac 


Prudence Palfrey. A Novel. Boston: James R. Os- 
good 6^ Co. 

i2mo, cloth, pp. 311. 


Flower and Thorn. Later Poems. Boston: James 
R. Osgood 6r= Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 149. 

Miss Mehetabel's Son. Illustrated. Boston: James 
R. Osgood df Co. 
32mo, cloth, pp. 93. 

A RiVERMOUTH Romance. Illustrated. Boston: James 
R. Osgood 6* Co. 
3 2 mo, cloth, pp. 94. 

^ From this point onward so large a proportion of the poems in each 
successive volume went into Aldrich's collected works that the contents 
will be omitted save in the case of the last Household Edition, which con- 
tains all of the poems he cared to preserve, and the "Songs and Sonnets" 
of 1906, which represents his own last selection of his best. 


A Midnight Fantasy, and The Little Violinist. 
Illustrated. Boston : James R. Osgood 6^ Co. 
3 2 mo, cloth, pp. 96. 

The Queen of Sheba. Boston: James R. Osgood &" 

i2mo, cloth, pp. 270. 


Baby Bell. With Illustrations. Boston: James R. Os- 
good (Sr' Co. 
8vo, cloth, pp. 43. 


The Story of a Cat. Illustrated. Translated from the 
French of Emile de la BedoUierre [B6dollibre]. Boston: 
Houghton, Osgood &^ Co. 
8vo, paper, pp. 100. 


The Little Violinist. Reprinted with the Author's per- 
mission and sold at a Fair of the Massachusetts Society 
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 
8vo, pp. 18. 

The Stillwater Tragedy. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 

i2mo, cloth, pp. 324. 



Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book, and Other Poems. 
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 6r* Co. 
32010, paper, pp. 94. 

XXXVI Lyrics and XII Sonnets. Boston: Houghton, 
Mifflin 6* Co. 
32mo, paper, pp. 93. 


The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Illustrated 
by the Paint and Clay Club. With Portrait. Boston: 
Houghton, Mifflin b^ Co. 
8vo, cloth, pp. 253. 


From Ponkapog to Pesth. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 267. 


Mercedes, and Later Lyrics. Boston: Houghton, 
Mifflin 6r» Co. 
8vo, cloth, pp. III. 



The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Household 
Edition. With Illustrations. Boston and New York: 
Houghton, Mifflin 6r= Co. 
Svo, pp. 286. 

Marjorie Daw, and Other People. [Riverside Aldine 
Series.] Boston : Houghton, Mifflin &^ Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 287. 


The Second Son. A Novel. By M. O. W. Oliphant and 
T. B. Aldrich. Boston and New York: Houghton, 
Mifflin &" Co, 
Svo, cloth, pp. 524. 


Wyndham Towers. Boston and New York : Houghton, 
Mifflin b^ Co. 

Crown 8vo, pp. 80. 


The Sisters' Tragedy, with Other Poems, Lyrical 
AND Dramatic. Boston and New York: Houghton, 
Mifflin 6t* Co. 

Crown 8vo, pp. 108. 


An Old Town by the Sea. Boston and New York: 
HoughtoUj Mifflin d^ Co, 
i6mo, cloth, pp. 128. 


Two Bites at a Cherry, with Other Tales. Boston 
and New York : Houghton, Mifflin 6* Co. 
Crown 8vo, cloth, pp. 269. 

Mercedes. A Drama in Two Acts, as Performed at 
Palmer's Theatre. Boston and New York : Hough- 
ton, Mifflin 6* Co. 
Crown 8vo, cloth, pp. 71. 


Unguarded Gates, and Other Poems. Boston and 
New York : Houghton, Mifflin b= Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 121. 

The Story of a Bad Boy. Illustrated by A. B. Frost. 
Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin 6* Co. 
8vo, cloth, pp. 286. 


Later Lyrics. Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin 
i8mo, vellum paper cover, pp. 92. 


Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book. Large-Paper Edi- 
tion. Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin 6* Co. 
i8mo, red vellum, pp. 57. With special title-page. 
Two hundred and fifty copies printed. 

Judith and Holofernes. A Poem. Boston and New 
York: Houghton, Mifflin b^ Co. 
Crown Svo, cloth, pp. 78. 

The Works of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Riverside 
Edition. In eight volumes. (Poems, 2 vols. Prose, 6 
vols.) Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin 6^ Co. 

In 1907 was added a ninth and last volume containing 
" Ponkapog Papers " and " A Sea Turn and Other Matters.'* 


The Story of a Bad Boy. Riverside School Library. 
With Illustrations. Boston, New York, and Chicago: 
Houghton, Mifflin 6* Co. 
i2mo, pp. 261. 

The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Revised and 
Complete Household Edition. With Illustrations. Bos- 
ton and New York: Houghton, Mifflin b* Co. 
Crown 8vo, pp. 422. 

The contents of this edition were the same as the Riverside 
Edition. Both editions were made complete and definitive by 
the addition of later pieces. The " Shaw Memorial Ode " 
was added in 1898, " Judith of Bethulia " in 1904, and 
*' Longfellow " in 1907. 


Flower and Thorn 

Baby Bell and Other Poems 
Baby Bell 
Piscataqua River 

Invocation to Sleep 
The Flight of the Goddess 
An Old Castle 
Lost at Sea 
The Queen's Ride 

On Lynn Terrace 

The Piazza of St. Mark at Midnight 
The Metempsychosis 
Bayard Taylor 

Before the Rain 
After the Rain 
A Snowflake 
The One White Rose 
Palabras Carinosas 
An Untimely Thought 


One Woman 




Nameless Pain 



Lyrics and Epics 

A Winter Piece 

Kriss Kringle 


Love's Calendar 

Lost Art 

Cloth of Gold 

An Arab Welcome 
A Turkish Legend 
The Crescent and the Cross 
The Unforgiven 
Dressing the Bride 
Two Songs from the Persian 
The Sultana 
The World's Way 

When the Sultan goes to Ispahan 
A Prelude 
To Hafiz 

At Nijnii-Novgorod 
The Lament of El Moulok 

Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book, Etc. 
Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book 



The Guerdon 

Tita's Tears 

A Ballad 

The Legend of Ara-Coeli 


Corydon — A Pastoral 

On an Intaglio Head of Minerva 

The Menu 


In an Atelier 

At a Reading 


Carpe Diem 

Dans la Boheme 

The Lunch 

Imp of Dreams 

An Elective Course 


L'Eau Dormante 

Echo Song 




Footnotes — A Book of Quatrains 

Spring in New England 

Wyndham Towers 

The Sisters' Tragedy, with Other Poems 
The Sisters' Tragedy 


White Edith 

Sea Longings 

The Bells at Midnight 

Unguarded Gates 

In Westminster Abbey 

A Shadow of the Night 

The Last Caesar 


Alec Yeaton's Son 


Monody on the Death of Wendell Phillips 

Two Moods 

The Shipman's Tale 

Broken Music 

The Sailing of the Autocrat 

At the Funeral of a Minor Poet 

Sargent's Portrait of Edwin Booth at "The Players" 

"When from the Tense Chords of that Mighty Lyre" 

Pauline Pavlovna 

Judith and Holofernes 
Book I. Judith in the Tower 
Book II. The Camp of Asshur 
Book III. The Flight 

A Mood 
Act V 

Guilielmus Rex 
A Dedication 
"Pillared Arch and Sculptured Tower" 





Forever and a Day 

A Touch of Nature 

" I '11 not confer with Sorrow '^ 

In the Belfry of the Nieuwe Kerk 

No Songs in Winter 

A Parable 


Seeming Defeat 

"Like Crusoe, walking by the Lonely Strand** 


The Letter 

"In Youth, beside the Lonely Sea" 

"Great Captain, Glorious in our Wars" 

The Winter Robin 

A Refrain 

The Voice of the Sea 



A Bridal Measure 

Cradle Song 

Santo Domingo 

At a Grave 


A Petition 

XXVIII Sonnets 

I. In vita Minerva 
II. Fredericksburg 

III. By the Potomac 

IV. Pursuit and Possession 
V. Miracles 



"Enamored Architect of Airy Rhyme" 




At Bay Ridge, Long Island 


" Even This will Pass Away" 




At Stratford-upon-Avon 


With Three Flowers 


The Lorelei 






An Alpine Picture 


To L. T. in Florence 


Henry Howard Brownell 


The Rarity of Genius 


Books and Seasons 


Outward Bound 


Ellen Terry in "The Merchant of Venice" 


The Poets 


The Undiscovered Country 






On reading William Watson's Sonnets entitled 

"The Purple East" 


"I vex me not with Brooding on the Years" 

Shaw Memorial Ode 
Judith of Bethulia 
Index of First Lines 
Index of Titles 



Baby Bell, The Little Violinist, and Other Verse 
AND Prose. Riverside Literature Series No. 124. Bos- 
ton, New York, and Chicago : Houghtofij Mifflin 6r» Co. 
8vo, pp. 87. 


A Sea Turn and Other Matters. Boston and New 
York. Houghton, Mifflin &^ Co. 
i2mo, cloth, pp. 300. 


PoNKAPOG Papers. Boston and New York. Houghton, 
Mifflin &^ Co. 

i2mo, cloth, pp. 195. 


A Book of Songs and Sonnets selected from the 
Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. The Riverside 
i6mo, pp. 113. 
Four hundred and thirty copies printed. 


To L. A., with a Book of Verses 

Sargent's Portrait of Edwin Booth at " The Players " 



On Lynn Terrace 




Outward Bound 

" I 'II not confer with Sorrow " 

The World's Way 


Imp of Dreams 

Lost Art 



The Bells at Midnight 



Elizabethan Love Song 




Forever and a Day 

Ellen Terry in "The Merchant of Venice" 




The Letter 

Invita Minerva 

Two Songs from the Persian 

Nameless Pain 



The Flight of the Goddess 

"Pillared Arch and Sculptured Tower" 

Pursuit and Possession 

The Sailing of the Autocrat 


Before the Rain 

After the Rain 

At Nijnii-Novgorod 

The Undiscovered Country 


A Touch of Nature 

Piscataqua River 

Books and Seasons 



Seeming Defeat 

"Like Crusoe, walking by the Lonely Strand" 

An Untimely Thought 

To Hafiz 

Broken Music 

A Dedication 

The Winter Robin 

A Refrain 

The Voice of the Sea 

Alec Yeaton's Son 

Napoleon III 


The One White Rose 



A Mood 


On reading William Watson's Sonnets, entitled " The 

Purple East" 

On an Intaglio Head of Minerva 
Enamored Architect of Airy Rhyme 
Two Moods 
Decoration Day 





Palabras Cariiiosas 

The Grave of Edwin Booth 


"When from the Tense Chords of that Mighty Lyre" 

No Songs in Winter 

The King's Wine 

"I vex me not with Brooding on the Years" 

A Petition 



Prudence Palfrey door Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Nit 
het Engelsch. T. H. De Beer. Amsterdam : Gehroeders 

8vo, pp. 238. 

De Geschiedenis van Een Deugniet door Thomas 
Bailey Aldrich. S. J. Andriessen met Platen. Amster- 
dam : Jan Leendertz. 

1 2 mo, pp. 210. Contents, i unnumbered leaf. 

En Slem Dreunge Historie af Thomas Bailey Aldrich. 
Bed. A. Th. J. Kjobenhain : L. Jordans Forlag Tsykt 
hos Henr. Donatzky 8 Helfingor. 
i2mo, pp. 236. 





Marjorie Daw, Prudence Palfrey, Mademoiselle 
Olympe Zabriski, Le Palmier- Dattes du Pere 
Antoine, tout a fait, par Th. Bailey Aldrich. Paris: 
Michel Levy Freres. 

i2mo, pp. 330. Table, i unnumbered leaf. 

La Reine de Saba, par Th. Bailey Aldrich. Le Maitre 
d'ficole du Flat-creek. Le Predicateur Ambulant, par 
Edward Eggleston. Traduction Th. Bentzon. Paris: 
Calmann Levy. 

1 2 mo. Half-title, i unnumbered leaf. Pp. iii (verso 
blank), 1-378. 


Nouvelles Americaines, Marjorie Daw, Prudence 
Palfrey, Mlle. Olympe Zabrisky, Le Palmier- 
Dattes du Pere Antoine, tout a fait. Nouvelle edi- 
tion. Paris : Calmann Levy. 

i2mo, pp. 330. Table, i unnumbered leaf. Adver- 
tisements, pp. 36. 


Le Crime de Stillwater, par T. B. Aldrich. Imitd de 
I'Anglais, par deL'Isle Adam. Paris: Lihrairie de Fir- 
min-Didot et Cie. 


i2mo. Half-title and title, unnumbered leaves. Pp. 

Un ficoLiER Americain, par T. Bailey Aldrich: Traduit 
de I'Anglais, par Th. Bentzon, avec autorisation de 
I'Auteur, dessins par J. Geoffroy. Bibliotheque d'Edu- 
cation et de Recreation. Paris: /. Hertzel et Cie. 

8vo. Half-title, frontispiece, title. Illustration, 4 
unnumbered leaves. Text, 1-232. Advertisements, 4 
unnumbered leaves. 


Prudence Palfrey und Andere Leute von Thomas 
Bailey Aldrich. In's Deutsche ubertragen von Moritz 
Busch. Leipzig: Verlag von Fr. Wilh. Grunow, 
i2mo, pp. vi — 376. 

Issued in a series called American Humorists, Vol. I. 


Die Geschichte Eines Bosen Buben und Drei An- 
dere ScHONE HiSTORiEN vou Thomas Bailey Aldrich. 
Leipzig : Fr. Wilh. Grunow. 
i2mo, pp. 301 (verso blank). 

Issued in a series called American Humorists, Vol. III. 



Die Konigin von Saba nebst Anderen Erzahlungen 
von Thomas Bailey Aldrich. MS. Deutsche iibertragen 
von Moritz Busch. Leipzig : Fr, Wilh. Grunow. 

i2mo. Half-title and title, 2 unnumbered leaves. 
Pp. 233 (verso blank). Contents, i unnumbered leaf. 

Prudence Palfrey und Andere Erzahlungen von 
Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Deutsch von Wilhelm Lange. 
Leipzig : Druck und Verlag von Philipp Reclam Jun. 
i6mo, pp. 191 (verso blank). 



En Slem Drengs Historie af Thomas Bailey Aldrich. 
Med 12 Tegninger af Tom Petersen. Kjobenhavn. 
Otto B. Woblewskys Forlag, Trykt Hos S. Jorgensen 

Half-title, title, and table of contents, 3 unnumbered 
leaves. Pp. 224. 

En Stygg Pojkes Historia af Th. Bailey Aldrich. Of- 
versattning af Karl Hemgren. Med 4 illustrationer. 
Stockholm: Albert Bouniers Forlag. 
i2mo, pp. 210. Contents, i unnumbered leaf. 




ToMMASO Bailey Aldrich. Marjorie Daw. Ed altri 
scritti. Prima Traduzione Italiana di Giorgio Barini. 
Autorizzata dalP autore. Iliustrazioni di S. Guastalla. 
Roma : Libreria Pontificia di F. Pustet. 

i2mo, pp. 176. Contents, 2 unnumbered pages. 


La Reina de Saba. T. Bayley Aldrich. Valencia: Li- 
breria de Pascual Aguilar. 

i2mo, pp. 172. Contents, 2 unnumbered pages. 



Alden, Henry M., editor of Harper'' s 

Magazine, 232, 234. 
Aldine Club, The, gives a dinner to 

Aldrich, 172. 
Aldrich, Charles, son of T. B. A., born, 

89; named for Charles Frost, 90; 

married, 216 ; fatal illness, 216-221 ; 

death, 227; letters to, 118, 180, 182, 

184, 186. 
Aldrich, Elias Taft, father of T. B. A., 

4, 15 ; twice married, 7; a wanderer, 

9, 10; death, 11. 
Aldrich, George, first American ances- 
tor of T. B. A., 4. 
Aldrich, Henry, canon of Christ Church, 


Aldrich, Sarah Abba Bailey, mother of 
T. B. A., 4, 19; marriage of, 7; wid- 
owed, II ; letter to, 56. 

Aldrich, Talbot, son of T. B. A., born, 
89 ; married, 232 ; letters to, 118, 180, 
182, 184, 186. 

Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, personal ap- 
pearance, I, 67, 80; birth, 4, 7 ; an- 
cestry, 4-7; early home in Ports- 
mouth, 8, 9, 13, 14; in New Orleans, 
10; at school in Portsmouth, 11, 12, 
14 ; earliest verses, 1 5 ; gives up going 
to Harvard, 15; loyalty to Ports- 
mouth, 16 ; life in New York, 18-53 ; 
a counting-room clerk, 20; contri- 
butes to Sunday Atlas, 23, 34 ; pub- 
lishes The Bells, 24, 25 ; Ballad of 
Babie Bell, 26-28 ; becomes junior 
literary critic of Evening Mirror, 28 ; 
affection for Longfellow, 29, 30 ; sub- 
editor of Home Journal, 31, 33 ; liter- 
ary adviser to Derby & Jackson, 31; 
prints Nest of Sonnets privately, 34 ; 

publishes Daisy's Necklace, 34; 
youthful love affairs, 35, 45, 55, 61 ; 
publishes The Course of True Love 
never did Run Smooth, 36 ; congratu- 
lated by Longfellow, 37 ; early friends, 
37-43, 72 ; never very Bohemian, 41 ; 
associate editor of the Saturday 
Press, 42, 45 ; reads poems at college 
commencements, 45 ; begins Glass 
Houses and publishes The Ballad of 
Babie Bell, 46 ; first poem in the 
Atlantic, 48 ; publishes Pampinea, 
and Other Poems, 52; praised by 
Longfellow, 53 ; seeks a military ap- 
pointment, 54, 55 ; and a berth on a 
war vessel, 55, 56 ; becomes war cor- 
respondent for New York Tribune, 
56-58 ; fruitage of his war experience, 
58-60; returns to Portsmouth, 58; 
publishes Out of His Head, and Other 
Stories, 60 ; privately issues Plre An- 
toine's Date-Palm, 61, 84 ; managing 
editor of Illustrated News, 63 ; first 
collected edition of his poems issued, 
63-66 ; becomes engaged to Miss Lil- 
ian Woodman, 67; correspondence 
with her, 68-70 ; leaves Illustrated 
News, 69 ; "gxvixis Judith 'v!\X\i^ Round 
Table, 70 ; and Friar Jerome in the 
Atlantic, 71 ; Blue and Gold edition of 
his poems issued, 75 ; editor of Every 
Saturday, 76, 79 ; marriage, *]"] ; 
boards in Hancock Street, Boston, 
78 ; early Boston friendships, 79 ; first 
meeting with Howells, 80, 81 ; his 
enjoyment of Boston, 81, 82, loi, 102 ; 
buys house in Pinckney Street, 86; 
Longfellow's Hanging of the Crane 
conceived there, 87 ; twin sons born, 



89 ; publishes The Story of a Bad 
Boy, 91, 92 ; writes Marjorie Daw, 
93 ; moves to Charles Street, 94 ; an 
international humorist, 94 ; corre- 
spondence with Mark Twain, 94-99, 
112-115 ; toasted hilariously by Arte- 
mus Ward, 98, 99; considers becom- 
ing an instructor at Harvard, 100; 
leases Elm wood, 102, 103 ; Prudence 
Palfrey, x 03-1 07 ; returns to Charles 
Street, 109; removes to Ponkapog, 
no, in; first European tour, 117- 
119 ; its literary fruits, 119, 120; The 
Queen of Sheba, 122, 124, 133-135; 
publishes Flower and Thorn, 126, 
132, his opinion of critics, 131 ; trans- 
lates The Story of a Cat, 135 ; elegy 
on Bayard Taylor, 136 ; second Euro- 
pean tour, 137; finishes The Still- 
water Tragedy, 12,7 ; opinion of Walt 
Whitman, 138, 140 ; appointed editor 
of the Atlantic Monthly, 140; his 
editorial office at 4 Park Street, 142- 
145 ; editorial work, 146-15 1 ; editorial 
letters, 148, 149 ; buys 59 Mt. Ver- 
non Street, 151; honorary degrees 
conferred on him, 151, 152, 194 ; his 
critical judgment, 153 ; on the value 
of contemporary criticism, 156; his 
reputation as a wit, 157-160; retires 
from the Atlantic, 160 ; builds " The 
Crags," at Tenant's Harbor, 161, 
175 ; travels around the world, 161 ; 
influence of the Orient on, 163 ; self- 
criticism, 165, 210, 245, 246; writes 
Unguarded Gates, 168 ; substitutes 
for Curtis in the "Easy Chair," 171 
note ; guest of honor at Aldine Club 
dinner, 172; revises Mercedes, 173; 
dissatisfied with his own photographs, 
177, 196; political attitude, 178, 204, 
205; in Japan, 180-183; in China, 
184, 185 ; Hong-Kong to Cairo, 186- 
188 ; collects Later Lyrics, 193 ; sug- 
gests poems to Stedman for the 
American Anthology, 197 ; some liter- 

ary opinions, 200-203, 206, 207; on 
the sonnet, 212, 213 ; on American 
poets, 214, 215 ; at Saranac Lake, 
217-222 ; publishes A Sea Turn and 
Other Matters, 222 ; and Ponkaj>og 
Papers, 223; The White Feather, 
223-225 ; discusses the quatrain, 226 ; 
death of his son Charles, 227; drama- 
tizes Judith and Holofernes, 228 ; 
his seventieth birthday, 232-234 ; 
writes poem for Longfellow cente- 
nary, 235, 238 ; writes his last letter, 
236 ; illness and death, 237 ; his last 
words, 237 ; funeral, 238 ; burial, 239 ; 
his prose style, 240 ; his habits of re- 
vision, 241, 242, 248-251 ; as a writer 
of short stories, 242, 243 ; his poetry, 
244-259 ; his early masters, 244, 245 ; 
his poetic evolution, 245, 246; his 
poetic style, 247-249 ; effective verbal 
changes, 250, 251 ; his longer narra- 
tive poems least characteristic, 253 ; 
personal and memorial poems, 254; 
his most enduring poems, 255-258. 

Some anecdotes of, 40, 49, 62, 87, 
98, 137, 142, 150, 151, 158-160. 

Letters (and extracts) : to his mo- 
ther, 56 ; to Miss Woodman, 68-70 ; to 
his sons, 118, 180, 182, 184, 186; to 
Francis Bartlett, 179, 197, 207, 212; 
to E. L. BurHngame, 227 ; to J. T. 
Fields, 29, 33, 52, 119; to W. O. 
Fuller, 223 ; to R. E. Lee Gibson, 
210; to R. W, Gilder, 195, 202, 204, 
232 ; to T. W. Higginson, 156 ; to W, 
D. Howells, 89, 94, 102, 116, 120, 121, 
122, 124, 129, 191, 193, 211, 218; to 
Laurence Hutton, 176; to J. R. 
Lowell, 90, 104, 108 ; to H. W. Ma- 
bie, 28, 172, 199, 208, 212 ; to Brander 
Matthews, 226; to Weir Mitchell, 
201; to E. S. Morse, 177; to Nance 
O'Neil, 229, 239 ; to F. D. Sherman^ 
164, 165, 170, 195 ; to E. C. Sted- 
man, 17, 19, 88, loi, 119, 127, 134, 
138, 140, 141, 146, 152, 154, 171, 196, 



213, 234 ; to R. H. Stoddard, 50, 55 ; 
to Bayard Taylor, 32, 70, jt,, 81, 82, 
103, 107, 125, 126, 129 ; to Mark 
Twain, 96, 99, 112, 114 ; to William 
Winter, 29, 174 ; to G. E. Woodberry, 
163, 166, 167, 173, 175, 177, 189, 190, 
194, 205, 206, 236 ; for a Portsmouth 
reunion, 16. 

Aldrich Memorial Museum, 9 note. 

American critics, %t„ 130, 131. 

American newspapers, 173. 

American poets, some opinions of Al- 
drich on : H. H. Brownell, 156 ; Mrs. 
Fields, 139; Halleck, 215; Holmes, 
153, 154; Lanier, 214, 215 ; Longfel- 
low, 29, 30 ; Lowell, 90, 91 ; Frank 
Dempster Sherman, 164; R. H. Stod- 
dard, 128; Whitman, 138, 140. 

Americanism, Aldrich's, 168. 

Arnold, George, early friend of Aldrich, 

' 38,39- 

Arnold, Matthew, dinner to, 158. 

Atlantic Monthly, The, Lowell's note 
accepting Aldrich's first poem in, 48 ; 
bought by H. O. Houghton & Co., 
107 ; edited by Howells, 140, 146 ; by 
Aldrich, 141, 143-146; Scudder be- 
comes editor, 160. 

Babie Bell, The Ballad of, occasion of, 
26 ; popularity of, 27, 28 ; and Other 
Poems, published, 46; sales, 52 ; con- 
tents, 263. 

Baby Bell, illustrated edition, 274. 

Bad Boy, The Story of a, quoted, 8, 9, 
13, 14 ; autobiographic. 12 ; begun, 
89 ; issued serially in Our Young 
Polks, 91 ; and as a book, 92, 270, 
277, 278 ; its permanence, 243, 244. 

Bailey, John, ancestor of T. B. A., 5,6. 

Bailey, Thomas Darling, " Grandfather 
Nutter," 7. 

"Bailey, Tom," 1-17. 

Bartlett, Francis, letters from Aldrich 
to : about a newspaper interview, 1 79 ; 
" a fall in C. B. & Q.," 197 ; about his 

poem Elmwood, 207, 208; about 
Shaw's Folly, 212. 

Bartol, Cyrus A., 86, %>]. 

BedoUi^re, Emile de la. Mother Michel 
and her Cat, T35. 

Bells, The, Aldrich's first volume of 
verse, 24 ; none of it included in late 
collections, 25, 245 ; contents, 261. 

Benedict, E. C, entertains Aldrich on 
his yacht, 157. 

Book of Songs and Sonnets, A, a final 
selection, 246, 285. 

Booth, Edwin, 3, 38; Aldrich's friend- 
ship with, 72, 73, 157, 159, 167; "a 
great actor," %i ; burial of, 174. 

Brewster, Charles Warren, his Rambles 
about Portsmouth, early verses by 
Aldrich in, 15. 

Brownell, Henry Howard, naval lau- 
reate, 56 ; battle bard, 156. 

Browning, Robert, Aldrich meets in 
London, 137, 206. 

Bryant, William CuUen, 38. 

Bugbee, James M., a lifelong friend of 
Aldrich, 79. 

Buntline, Ned, as Aldrich remembered 
him, 192. 

Burlingame, E. L., 227. 

Carlyle, Thomas, his Frederick the 

Great, 173; a story in Carlylese, 197- 

Child, Alpha, letter to Aldrich quoted, 

21, 41 ; Aldrich's reply, 22. 
Child, Francis J., proposes to Aldrich 

to become an instructor at Harvard, 

Clapp, Henry, Jr., " King of Bohemia," 

38, 39, 44, 54 ; starts the Saturday 

Press, 42. 
" Clare, Ada " (Mrs. Jane McElhinney), 

*' Queen of Bohemia," 2, 38 ; her 

tragic death, 39. 
Clemens, Samuel L., see Twain, Mark. 
Cloth of Gold, 1 1 ; and Other Poems, 

46; contents, 271. 



Course of True Love never did Run 
Smooth, The, published, 36 ; sales, 52 ; 
almost entirely omitted from later col- 
lections, 245 ; contents, 263. 

Cozzens, Frederick S., author of the 
Sparrowgrass Papers, 38. 

" Crags, The," Aldrich's summer place 
at Tenant's Harbor, 161, 175, 177, 

Crescent and the Cross, The, 249, 250. 

Curtis, George William, 38 ; the " Easy 
Chair," 171. 

Daisy's Necklace, and what came of it^ 

34, 35, 263. 
DeMerritt, Samuel, Aldrich's teacher, 14. 
Derby, J. C, publishes Aldrich's first 

volume of verse, 24. 
Derby & Jackson, Aldrich becomes 

literary adviser to, 31; publish Daisy's 

Necklace, 34. 
Dickens, Charles, at Aldrich's house, 87. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, unconscious- 
ness of, 176 ; Aldrich's admiration of 
his Bacchus, 197. 

Evening Mirror, Aldrich junior liter- 
ary critic of, 28-31. 

Every Saturday, established, 76 ; edited 
by Aldrich, 79, 80, 84 ; changed to an 
illustrated weekly, 100 ; sold to H. O. 
Houghton & Co., 106, 107. 

Faithful, Major, 182, 185. 

" Fern, Fanny," sister of N. P. Willis, 
2, 30 ; marries James Parton, 31. 

Fields, Annie, 79 ; letter of Aldrich to, 
83 ; her Under the Olive, 139. 

Fields, James T., 3, 117; intimacy with 
Aldrich, 79, 87; retires from busi- 
ness, 100 ; letters from Aldrich to : 
about Hiawatha, 29 ; about publish- 
ing a volume of poems, 33, 52 ; about 
European experiences, 119. 

Flower and Thorn, 126, 130; pub- 
lished, 132, 133, 273. 

Francis, Miss S. M., 4 ; describes rou- 
tine of the Atlantic office, 143-145. 

Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book, 253, 
278 ; printed in the Atlantic, 71 ; Al- 
drich's estimate of, 210,; published, 
with other poems, 275. 

Frost, A. B., illustrates the Bad Boy, 

Frost, Charles, Aldrich's uncle, 10; 
takes Aldrich into his counting-room, 
16, 20. 

Frost, Mrs. Charles, 10, 19. 

Frothingham, Octavius Brooks, 127, 

Fuller, W. O., criticises The White 
Feather, 223-225. 

Garfield, President James A., assassi- 
nation of, 152. 

" Gawd," thought a more poetical word 
than " God," 203, 207. 

Gibson, R. E. Lee, letter from Aldrich 
to, about changes in his sonnets, 210. 

Gilder, Richard Watson, 3 ; letters from 
Aldrich to : about Henry L. Pierce, 
195 ; about poetry, 202 ; about buying 
the Filipinos, 204 ; about the marriage 
of his son Talbot, 232. 

Giles, Henry, quoted, 44. 

Girls, The, a discarded poem, quoted, 

Glass Houses, early novel by Aldrich, 
never finished, 46. 

Goodwin, Governor, of New Hamp- 
shire, 54. 

Guernsey, Alfred H., editor of Harper^ s 
Magazine, 20, 234. 

Halleck, Fitz Greene, an early friend of 
Aldrich, 18, 38 ; Aldrich's judgment 
of, 215. 

Hanging of the Crane, The, conceived 
by Longfellow in Aldrich's dining- 
room, 87. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, letter to Al- 
drich about his poems, 66, 200 ; The 



Scarlet Letter, one of the two chief 
pieces of American fiction, 201. 

Hawthorne, Sophia, writes Aldrich 
about P^re Antoine's Date-Palm^ 84, 

Hearn, Lafcadio, as a letter writer, 3. 

Heine, Heinrich, quoted, 47. 

Herford, Oliver, quoted, 226. 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, letter 
from Aldrich to, about H. H. Brown- 
ell, 156. 

Holland, Josiah Gilbert, 123; popu- 
larity of, 132. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 3 ; letter to 
Aldrich about first collected edition 
of his poetry, 64, 65 ; letter about 
Blue and Gold edition, 75, 76 ; Al- 
drich's estimate of Holmes's work, 
154 ; anecdote of, 158, 159 ; Aldrich's 
appreciation of his kindness, 200. 

Home Journal (New York), Aldrich's 
connection with, 30-33, 42. 

Houghton, Lord, anecdote of, 159. 

House, Edward H., war correspondent 
of the Tribune, 56, 57. 

Howard Athenaeum, the, 203. 

Howells, William Dean, 3 ; impressions 
of the Saturday Press ^ 43-45 ; ^^' 
views The Ballad of Babie Bell, 47, 
48 ; first meeting with Aldrich, 79, 80 ; 
Aldrich's impressions of, 81 ; editor 
of the Atlantic, 140, 146 ; letters 
from Aldrich to : about the birth of 
A.'s twin boys, 89 ; about his Charles 
Street house, 94 ; about A Midnight 
Fantasy, 116; about the Legend of 
Ara-Coeli, 120, 121 ; about The Queen 
<?/'6'^^/5a, and other matters, 122-125 ; 
lamenting that his poetical wind-mill 
is dismantled, 129 ; about J. R. Os- 
good and other old friends, 191 ; about 
letter writing, 193 ; about H.'s re- 
moval to New York, 211; a "crazy- 
quilt " letter, 218-222. 

Hutton, Laurence, 157; birthplace of, 
10; letter from Aldrich to, 176. 

Illustrated News, The, Aldrich's con- 
nection with, 63, 69. 

In Youth beside the Lonely Sea, an 
autobiographic poem, 41, 42. 

James, Henry, not a natural story-teller, 
134 ; his prose style, 240. 

James, William, 79. 

Jefferson, Joe, 172. 

Journal of Commerce, Babie Bell first 
printed in, 26. 

Jubilee Days, 191, 271. 

Judith, printed in the Round Table, 

Judith and Holofernes, Miss O'Neil 
asks Aldrich to dramatize, 228 ; pub- 
lished, 278. 

Judith of Bethulia, 228 ; played in Bos- 
ton and New York, 229, 230 ; its mer- 
its, 231. 

Keats, John, " did n't know any better 
than to write pure English," 207. 

Keeler, Ralph, art editor of Every 
Saturday, 100; mysterious death, 


Kipling, Rudyard, 224 ; " a certain Ara- 
bian writer," 169. 

Lander, Gen. F. W., Aldrich appointed 
to staff of, 54; elegy on, 54, 55. 

Landor, Walter Savage, a master of 
quatrains, 226. 

Lanier, Sidney, ranked by Aldrich as a 
minor poet, 214, 215. 

Later Lyrics, 193, 277. 

Lathrop, George Parsons, 125, 147. 

Legend of Ara-Coeli, The, 120, 123, 

" Little Miss," 86, 87. 

Little Violinist, The, 274. 

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 3 ; in- 
fluence on Aldrich, 25 ; Aldrich's ad- 
miration of, 29; praises Aldrich, 37,53; 
conceives The Hanging of the Crane 
in Aldrich's dining-room, 87, 88 ; his 



opinion of the Bad Boy, 93 ; cente- 
nary of his birth, 235 . 

Lowell, James Russell, perennially 
youthful, I ; a cultivated letter writer, 
3 ; accepts poem by Aldrich for the 
Atlantic, 48, 49 ; suggests that Al- 
drich become an instructor at Har- 
vard, 100 ; leases Elmwood to Al- 
drich, 103 ; his Commemoration Ode, 
132; his Letters, 176; letters from 
Aldrich to : about Under the Wil- 
lows, 90, 91 ; about Elmwood, 104, 

Ludlow, Fitz Hugh, author of the 
Hasheesh Eater, 38, 39. 

Lynn Terrace^ one of the finest of Al- 
drich's poems, 251. 

Mabie, Hamilton W., " a ^^^^-light," 
170, 171; letters from Aldrich to: 
about Baby Bell, 28 ; about speaking 
at dinners, 1 72 ; about his criticism 
of A.'s work, 199 ; about contempo- 
rary poetry, 208, 209 ; about the son- 
net, 212, 213. 

McCann, John E., reads Baby Bell in a 
Western barroom, 27, 28. 

McElhinney, Mrs. Jane, see Clare, Ada. 

Man and the Hour, The, quoted, 53, 54. 

Marjorie Daw, 93, 271, 276. 

Matthews, Brander, letter from Al- 
drich to, about the quatrain, 226. 

Memory, 256,257; Whittier's enjoy- 
ment of, 258. 

Mercedes, successfully produced on the 
stage, 162; revised, 173, 277. 

Mercedes, and Later Lyrics, 275. 

Metempsychosis, The, 49. 

Midnight Fantasy, A, 116,274. 

Miss MehetabeVs Son, 273. 

Mitchell, S. Weir, letter from Aldrich 
to, about Hugh Wynne, 201. 

Moore, Frank, Songs of the Soldiers, 
quoted, 59, 60. 

Morris, George P., 2, 18 ; one of the 
owners of the Evening Mirror, 28 ; 

his Woodman, spare that Tree, 38 ; 

once considered a poet, 128. 
Morse, Edward S., Aldrich writes to, 

about photographs of himself, 177. 
Mot-de-curbstone, 224. 

Nameless Pain praised by Mr. How- 
ells, 47, 48. 

Nason, Rev. Elias, 127. 

Nest of Sonnets, entire edition de- 
stroyed by Aldrich, 34, 

Newcastle, N. H., 17. 

Newspapers, American, 173. 

New York; literary life of, in the fifties, 
18, 37, 45- 

Nordhoff, Charles, editor of Harper'^s 
Magazine, 234. 

North, Ernest Dressel, his bibliography 
of Aldrich, 261. 

Nutter House, The, 8, 11, 13. 

O'Brien, Fitz James, 38 ; literary work, 
39, 40 ; challenges Aldrich to fight a 
duel, 40 ; associate of Aldrich on the 
Saturday Press, 42 ; on Gen. Lan- 
der's staff, 54. 

Occasional poems, not likely to wear 
well, 197, 200. 

Old Town by the Sea, An, 173, 277. 

Oliphant, Mrs. M. O. W., Aldrich collab- 
orates with, in The Second Son, 276. 

O'Neil, Nance, in Judith of Bethulta^ 

Osgood, James R., writes Aldrich about 
editing Every Saturday, 76 ; changes 
Every Saturday to an illustrated 
weekly, 100 ; business misfortunes, 
106, 107, 191. 

Our Young Folks,^x\Xi\.% The Story of 
a Bad Boy, 91, 92 ; sold to Scribner 
& Co., 107. 

Out of his Head, and Other Stories, 
60, 266. 

Paint and Clay Club, edition of Al. 
drich's Poems illustrated by, 275. 



Pampinea (later Pampina), changes 

in, 250. 
Pampinea, and Other Poems, 52, 53; 

contents, 265. 
Pansy's Wish, 270. 
Parton, James, sub-editor of Home 

Journal, 30 ; marries " Fanny Fern," 

Phre Antoine's Date-Palm privately 

printed, 61, 84, 270. 
Pfaff' s restaurant, 41, 45. 
Phillips, Wendell, Aldrich's Monody on, 

152, 153- 

Pierce, Henry L., Aldrich's nearest 
neighbor at Ponkapog, 112; dies at 
59 Mount Vernon Street, 162, 195. 

Piscataqua River, 52, 53, 251. 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 215. 

Poem, the actual, 252. 

Poems of a Year, 52, 53, 265. 

Ponkapog, Aldrich's residence in, no, 
III, 126; his enjoyment of, 113, 125. 

Ponkapog Papers, 223, 285. 

Ponkapog to Pesth, From, 112, 275. 

"Porcupine, The," Aldrich's house at 
Saranac Lake, 222. 

Portsmouth, N.H., 2, 7, 11, 14,15,16,17. 

Preston, Harriet Waters, 144, 147. 

Prudence Palfrey, T03-106, 273. 

Pythagoras ( The Metempsychosis), Al- 
drich's first poem in the Atlantic, 48, 

Quatrain, the, Aldrich on, 226. 

Queen of Sheba, The, in, 122,124; 

published, 133, 274, 
Queen's Ride, The, striking changes in, 

248, 249. 
Quite So, one of the best of Aldrich's 

stories, 58. 

Rankin, McKee, 229. 

Riley, James Whitcomb, The Plying 

Islands of the Night, 210, 211. 
Rivermouth Romance, A, 273. 
Round Table, The, prints Judith^ 70. 

Rudd & Carleton, publishers of some 
of Aldrich's early books, 52, 61. 

Sala, George Augustus, described by 
Aldrich, 72. 

Saranac Lake, New York, 217-227. 

Saturday Press, started by Henry 
Clapp, Jr., 42 ; Howells's recollec- 
tions of, 43-45 ; discontinued for lack 
of funds, 48. 

Says Private Maguire, forgotten piece 
by Aldrich, 59, 60. 

Scudder, Horace E., 125, 147 ; becomes 
editor of the Atlantic, 160. 

Sea Turn, A, and Other Matters, pub- 
lished, 222, 285. 

Second Son, The, by Mrs. M. O. W. 
Oliphant and T. B. Aldrich, 276. 

Shadow of the Nighty A, 236. 

Shaw's Polly, 212. 

Sherman, Frank Dempster, Aldrich 
writes to : about Lyrics for a Lute, 
164; and about his own poetry, 165, 
166, 170; about William Watson, 

Sill, Edward Rowland, an ideal con- 
tributor, 144, 147. 

Sisters^ Tragedy, The, with Other 
Poems, 276. 

Songs and Sonnets, A Book of, 246, 

Songs of the Soldiers, 58-60. 

Sonnet, the, Aldrich on, 212, 213. 

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 383 ; letters 
of Aldrich to : about Newcastle, 17 J 
about Charles Frost, 19 ; about his 
home, 88 ; about New York, loi ; 
about Stedman's work, 127 ; about 
The Queen of Sheba, 134; about 
Walt Whitman, 138, 140 ; about ed- 
iting the Atlantic, 141, 146 ; about 
Holmes's poems, 154; about the 
Easy Chair, 171 ; about occasional 
poems, 196 ; about the American 
Anthology, 213 ; about his seventieth 
birthday, 234. 



Stevenson, Robert Louis, 3 ; at Saranac 
Lake, 217, 219. 

Stillwater Tragedy, T"^,?, 11 1, 137, 274. 

Stockton, Frank R., 221. 

Stoddard, Richard H., 32, 38; The 
Course of True Love dedicated to, 
36; as a poet, 128 ; letters from Al- 
drich to . about vacation work, 50, 51 ; 
about entering the navy, 55. 

Story of a Cat, The, 135, 274. 

Sunday Atlas, Aldrich's poems in, 23, 
36 ; Daisfs Necklace printed in, 34. 

Talbot, Marion, and sister, publish 
Pansy'' s Wish, 270. 

Tamerlane, Poe's, Aldrich tries to' buy 
a first edition, 168. 

Tavern -Club, the, 172. 

Taylor, Bayard, 3, 32, 38 ; sonnet for 
Aldrich's marriage, 'jt, death, 136; 
Aldrich's poem on, 136 ; letters from 
Aldrich to : the first in a long series, 
32 ; about his own work, 70 ; about a 
happy summer, 'J'}) \ about Boston 
and New York, 81 ; about newspaper 
criticism, 82, 83; about Elmwood, 
103 ; about Every Saturday and 
Prudence Palfrey, 107 ; about Pon- 
kapog, 125-127 ; about literary mat- 
ters, 129-132. 

Thompson, Launt, 38 ; medallion of Al- 
drich, 63; friendship with Edwin 
Booth, 'j^. 

Ticknor & Fields include Aldrich's 
poems in their Blue and Gold, series, 

To the Moon, Aldrich's earliest verses, 


Translations of Aldrich's writings : 
Dutch, 288 ; French, 289, 290 ; Ger- 
man, 290, 291 ; Swedish, 291 ; Italian 
and Spanish, 292. 

Trip, Aldrich's setter, 142, 166, 167, 

Trowbridge, John Townsend, editor of 
Our Young Folks, 92. 

Twain, Mark, 3 ; correspondence with 
Aldrich, 94-99 ; deluges Aldrich with 
photographs, 112-117 ; in Paris with 
Aldrich, 137 ; " God's fool," 192 ; 
his donkey-boys, 220. 

Two Bites at a Cherry, with Other 
Tales, 277 

Underwood, Francis H., 43. 
Unguarded Gates, 168, 253, 277. 

Van Dyke, Henry, poem on Aldrich's 

seventieth birthday, 233. 
Villon, Frangois, 138 

.Ward, Artemus, anecdote of, 98, 99. 

Watson, William, writes a sonnet to 
Aldrich, 195. 

Whipple, Edwin Percy, a real critic, 

White, Richard Grant, a versatile 
writer, 144, 147. 

White Feather, The, 222-225 » ^^^ ^^ 
Aldrich's best stories, 58. 

Whitman, Walt, and Aldrich not sym- 
pathetic, 38 ; criticised by Aldrich, 

' 138, 140. 

Whittier, John Greenleaf , too simple to 
pose, 176; Aldrich's appreciation of, 
200 ; his enjoyment of Aldrich's 
Memory, 258. 

WilUs, Nathaniel Parker, 2, 18; part 
owner of Evening Mirror, 28; ed- 
itor of Home Journal, 30 ; engages 
Aldrich as assistant, 31 ; advises him 
about publishing, 36. 

Willis, Sarah, "Fanny Fern," 2, 30; 
marries James Parton, 31. 

Winter, William, 38; associate of Al- 
drich on the Saturday Press, 42; 
his Life and Art of Edwin Booth, 
174, 176; letters from Aldrich to: 
about Longfellow, 29 ; about the bur- 
ial of Booth, 174. 

Wister, Mrs. S. B., 144. 

Woodberry, George E., 3 ; a frequent 



contributor to the Atlantic, 144, 147 ; 
letters from Aldrich to : about the 
Orient, 163, 189; about some of A.'s 
work, 166, 167, 173; about American- 
ism, 167-169, 177, 205; about "The 
Crags," 175, 178, 190; about A.'s 
Harvard diploma, 194 ; about Brown- 
ing and Keats, 206, 207 the last of 
all his letters, 236. 

Woodman, Lilian, becomes engaged to 
Aldrich, 67; correspondence with, 
68-70 ; marriage, 'j'j. 

Wyndham Towers, 253, 276 ; con- 
sidered by Aldrich his best long poem, 

XXXVI Lyrics and XII Sonnets, 

U . S . A